Press Releases

     
    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/GA/1754
           28 November 2000
     Resources Sought for Brahimi Initiatives Would Make Significant Difference 
    To Peacekeeping Abilities, Secretary-General Tells Fifth Committee

    NEW YORK, 27 November (UN Headquarters) -- The resources needed for the initial phase of the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (the Brahimi report) were not significant, but they would make a significant difference to United Nations peacekeeping ability, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning. 

    Presenting his request for emergency resources for the biennium 2000-2001, the Secretary-General added that the proposed amount represented less than half of 1 per cent of the current regular budget appropriations and less than one and a half per cent of the current levels of peacekeeping costs.  The two vital objectives were to provide more effective support to some 58,000 peacekeepers in the field and to put in place systems and procedures for a more effective response to crises.

    The United Nations had been too slow, too tied up in red tape, too weak or too fragmented to deal effectively with conflicts, he said.  From early warning to mission planning to the use of modern communications and information technology, the report represented the most significant effort to enhance peacekeeping.  It was up to Member States to answer that call.

    He went on to stress the need to strengthen the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ ability to support and guide operations in the field.  It was on the ground -– with an effective military and civilian presence, competent command and control structures -– that the United Nations would succeed or fail.  That was truly an emergency requirement, demanding emergency action.  If the Committee deferred action on the emergency package now, peacekeepers in the field and the peoples they sought to serve would inevitably suffer.

    [The Panel, which was chaired by Lakhdar Brahimi, Under-Secretary-General for Special Assignments in Support of the Secretary-General’s Preventive and Peacemaking Efforts, was created by the Secretary-General in March and presented its recommendations in August this year.  Its recommendations include restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; a new information and strategic analysis unit; and an integrated task force at Headquarters to plan and support each peacekeeping mission from its inception.] 

    In the discussion that followed the Secretary-General’s presentation, several speakers stressed that the request should be considered expeditiously.  Others noted that the enhancement of United Nations peacekeeping should not be carried out at the expense of its development activities.  Instead, it should complement them. 

    Canada’s representative stressed that if the Brahimi recommendations failed, the United Nations would also fail.  Those Member States which had the capacity to help, but lacked the will to do so, should reconsider.  Refusing to pay their assessed contributions or hedging payments with conditions only encouraged those who would like to see the United Nations fail.  The Organization’s reputation, and possibly its future, were at stake.  Its failures in Rwanda, Srebrenica and Sierra Leone had dwarfed its successes in the public mind.  It was to that public, whose sons and daughters participated in peacekeeping operations, that the United Nations must be accountable.

     The representative of the United States said that his country’s contribution to peacekeeping was directly related to the subject of today’s discussion.  The Clinton Administration was taking the fact that the United States’ arrears were influencing United Nations peacekeeping activities very seriously, and a solution was on the way.  At the end of 1999, the United States had paid $100 million in arrears to the Organization, and it was preparing to pay an additional $582 million at the end of this year, if necessary changes were made in the financing system. 

     The representative of Norway said that the growing demand for United Nations peacekeeping efforts underscored the need to close the gap between the tasks that the Organization was asked to perform and the resources it had to do it.  The so-called zero nominal growth policy had become increasingly counterproductive in terms of both implementing United Nations reform and allowing the Organization to respond to new challenges and tasks. 

    Without a comprehensive review of staffing needs based on objective management and productivity criteria, the representative of the Republic of Korea said it would be difficult to define an appropriate baseline level that would enable the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to respond flexibly to changing needs.  In addition, it was necessary to address, on a priority basis, the alarming trend of qualified young personnel leaving the United Nations.

    Also speaking this morning were the representatives of France (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Hungary, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Cuba and Syria.

    The Committee will hold its next formal meeting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday 29 November, when it is scheduled to consider questions relating to the programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001 and chapters from the Economic and Social Council report.

    Committee Work Programme

     As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning, the Secretary-General was expected to address the Committee, presenting phase I of implementation of the recommendations contained in the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (the Brahimi Report).

     The Committee had before it the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (document A/55/305-S/2000/809).  The Panel was chaired by Lakhdar Brahimi, Under-Secretary-General for Special Assignments in Support of the Secretary-General’s Preventive and Peacemaking Efforts.

    Established by the Secretary-General in March, the Panel's recommendations include:  extensive restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; a new information and strategic analysis unit to service all United Nations departments concerned with peace and security; an integrated task force at Headquarters to plan and support each peacekeeping mission from its inception; and more systematic use of information technology. 

    Many of the proposed changes require political, financial or operational decisions from United Nations Member States, the report states.  For instance, the Panel urges the Security Council not to finalize resolutions authorizing large peacekeeping missions until Member States have pledged the necessary troops and resources; and recommends an increase in funding to strengthen the peacekeeping support staff at United Nations Headquarters. 

    In the area of doctrine and strategy, the Panel calls for more effective conflict-prevention strategies, pointing out that prevention is far preferable for those who would otherwise suffer the consequences of war.  It is also a less costly option for the international community than military action, emergency humanitarian relief, or reconstruction after a war has run its course.  The report says peacekeepers must be able to defend themselves and their mandate, with robust rules of engagement.  And it urges the Secretariat to draw up a plan for developing better peace-building strategies.  Peacekeepers and peace-builders, it says, are inseparable partners, since only a self-sustaining peace offers a ready exit peacekeeping forces. 

    The Panel further recommends that the Secretariat tell the Security Council what it needs to know, not what it wants to hear, when formulating or changing mission mandates. 

    Concerning transitional civil administration, the report states that a panel of international legal experts should explore the idea of an interim criminal code, for use in places where the United Nations is given temporary executive powers (as currently in Kosovo and East Timor), pending the re-establishment of local rule of law and law enforcement. 

    On the matter of time lines, "traditional" United Nations peacekeeping operations (sent to monitor ceasefires and separations of forces after inter-State wars) should be fully deployed within 30 days, the Panel recommends.  More complex peace operations, sent to help end intra-State conflicts, should be deployed within 90 days. 

    Concerning personnel, Member States should work together to form coherent, multinational, brigade-sized forces, ready for effective deployment within those time lines, and each should establish a national pool of civilian police officers.  The Panel does not call for a standing United Nations army, but says the Secretariat should establish "on-call" lists of about 100 military and 100 police officers and experts, from national armies and police forces, who would be available on seven days' notice to establish a new mission headquarters.  Conditions of service for civilian specialists should also be revised, so that the United Nations can attract more qualified personnel, and reward good performance with better career prospects. 

    Regarding speed and efficiency, the Secretary-General should be allowed funds to start planning a mission before the Security Council approves it, so that, when approved, it can be deployed quickly.  Field missions should be given greater freedom to manage their own budgets.  Additional ready-made mission "start-up kits" should be maintained at the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy. 

    In matters of funding for peacekeeping support, the Panel remarks that, after 52 years, it is time to treat peacekeeping as a core activity of the United Nations, rather than a temporary responsibility.  Headquarters support for it should, therefore, be funded mainly through the regular United Nations budget instead of the current Support Account which has to be justified year by year and post by post. 

     The Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations (document A/55/502) covers actions taken since the issuance of the Panel’s report; proposed action for implementing the Panel’s recommendations; proposals for enhancing the effectiveness of key peace and security instruments; and new mechanisms for improving system-wide integration.  Other issues covered are enhancing rapid and effective deployment capacities; funding of Headquarters support to peacekeeping operations; proposed restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; strengthening of other parts of the United Nations system; and information technology and knowledge management.

     Regarding the Panel’s recommendation for the strengthening of permanent United Nations capacity to develop peace-building strategies and implement supporting programmes, the Secretary-General notes that a clear division of labour has not yet emerged in the formulation of comprehensive peace-building strategies and their implementation.  As a result of that lack of clarity, the Panel implied that there was a need to address the risks of competing demands on limited donor resources, potential duplication of efforts and/or gaps in key areas.

     On peacekeeping operations, the Secretary-General notes that, while it is within the Secretariat’s responsibility to draft rules of engagement for each operation, these are individually tailored to the mandates adopted by the Security Council.  As such, the Council will have a leading role in implementing the Panel’s recommendations.  In addition, as pointed out by the Panel, only 32 posts are authorized for military officers in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in comparison with more than 30,000 military personnel in the field.  An increase has been requested in resources for the Military Division (including for the Training Unit).

     With respect to new mechanisms to improve system-wide integration, the Secretary-General proposes to create the Executive Committee on Peace and Security Information and Strategic Analysis Secretariat, effective January 2001.  That will be done primarily by consolidating existing resources in the Department of Political Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Public Information, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Department for Disarmament Affairs, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

    The report says that the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues/Division for the Advancement of Women will maintain close contacts with the Information and Strategic Analysis Secretariat, which should be headed by a Director reporting to the Under-Secretaries-General for Political Affairs and Peacekeeping Operations, as recommended by the Panel.

    Agreeing with the Panel on enhancing rapid deployment capacities, the Secretary-General says that a first step would be to define the meaning of “rapid” and “effective”, recalling that the Secretariat was asked to deploy the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) in less than three weeks.  Similar time constraints applied to the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).  Peace processes were often most fragile in the initial phases, and operations must be deployed when they could make the greatest contribution.  The relevant parts of the Secretariat had been asked to use the time lines proposed by the Panel as the basis for evaluating the capacity of existing systems to provide field missions with the required human, material, financial and information assets.

    Regarding the restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Secretary-General requests the addition of one Assistant Secretary-General, as proposed by the Panel.  The additional post is a necessary investment to ensure high-level availability, effective management of the Department, shared responsibility and mutual back-up.  It will also enable greater and more frequent interaction with field missions, including extended visits and deployment as heads of mission start-up teams.  Another request is that the rank of the Civilian Police Adviser be upgraded to the D-2 level and that the Adviser no longer report to the Military Adviser, but rather to the Assistant Secretary-General for Military and Civilian Police Affairs.

    The Secretary-General agrees that the Panel’s proposal of a distinct unit responsible for operational planning and support of public information components is warranted.  While he does not favour creating new capacities in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations that might otherwise already exist in the United Nations system, there might be certain instances where proximity to the daily decision-making processes overrides the benefits of central support structures providing assistance to the Department through the integrated mission task force mechanism.

    Also before the Committee was the report of the Secretary-General on resource requirements for implementation of the recommendations contained in the Brahimi report (document A/55/507), according to which resources are requested on an emergency basis, through the support account for the biennium 2000-2001, to enable the Secretariat to better support peacekeeping operations.  They could be used to substantially reinforce and restructure the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, while other departments supporting peace operations would also be strengthened. 

    According to the report, restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations would involve:  establishment of one additional post at the Assistant Secretary-General level; strengthening and restructuring of the Military Division; establishment of a Civilian Police Division; establishment, through redeployment from the Department of Public Information, of a Peace and Security Public Information Unit; establishment of a Criminal Law and Judiciary Advisory Unit to deal with the rule of law; strengthening of the Lessons Learned Unit; and establishment of a Gender Unit.

    Resources are sought under the regular budget for the biennium 2000-2001 to provide for immediate implementation of those recommendations of the Panel that involve action as of January 2001.  They include establishment of the Executive Committee on Peace and Security Information and Strategic Analysis Secretariat, strengthening of the Electoral Assistance Division of the Department of Political Affairs, and of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

    The report presents the consequential changes in resources that would be required to the programme budget for 2000-2001 and to the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001.  It is noted that the budgetary implications of some of the Panel’s recommendations would require further study, and that a second implementation report would be submitted to the General Assembly in the course of 2001.

    The change in the regular budget for the biennium 2000-2001 would amount to some $7.53 million and include an increase of 35 posts, the Secretary-General states.  The change in the peacekeeping support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001 would amount to about $14.68 million and include an increase of 214 posts.  The proposals in the report would result in ongoing costs in the biennium 2002-2003 of $71.4 million, of which $12 million would relate to the regular budget and $59.4 million would relate to the support account.  The proposed additional ongoing requirements for the biennium 2002-2003 for the regular budget are equivalent to 0.47 per cent of current regular budget appropriations, and for the support account they are equivalent to 1.43 per cent of current levels of peacekeeping costs.

    The detailed resource requirements for the programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001 and for the peacekeeping support account are presented, by section of the budget, in the addendum to the Secretary-General's report (document A/55/507/Add.1).

    Statements

     KOFI ANNAN, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that he had established the Panel on the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations because the United Nations simply could not continue to conduct "business as usual" when it came to peace operations.  Too many times, in too many places, over the past decade, inadequate mandates and insufficient means and Headquarters support had led to calamities -– for the weak and vulnerable people the Organization sought to serve, for the brave and committed peacekeepers in the field, and for the Organization itself. 

     The Brahimi Report examined a whole range of areas in which the United Nations had been too slow, too tied up in red tape, too weak or too fragmented to deal effectively with conflicts, he said.  From early warning to mission planning to the use of modern communications and information technology, the report represented the most significant effort to improve crisis response within the United Nations since its founding.  It was up to Member States to answer that call.

     There were some larger issues surrounding the emergency request, he said.  Strengthening United Nations Headquarters' capacity did not solve all the problems facing peacekeeping today.  Member States must summon the political will necessary to supply the Organization with the support in troops and civilian personnel necessary to succeed.  There was also a concern that peacekeeping duties were not shared equally by Member States, and that not all missions mandated by the Security Council received equal or even adequate support.  Many delegations had deplored the "commitment gap" and the lack of political will to contribute to peacekeeping in Africa.  He shared that concern. 

    Even as the international community had to address those fundamental political and structural issues, he continued, there was also a basic and urgent need to strengthen the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ ability to support and guide operations in the field.  It was in the field that the United Nations would succeed or fail.  It was on the ground –- with an effective military and civilian presence, and with competent command and control structures -– that the United Nations could help or hinder, and there it must be strengthened.  That was truly an emergency requirement, demanding emergency action.  If the Committee deferred taking action on the emergency package now, it was inevitable that the peacekeeping personnel in the field -– and the peoples they sought to serve -– would suffer, and operational capabilities would be weakened on the ground.

    The resources proposed represented less than half of 1 per cent of the current regular budget appropriations, he said.  The proposals in respect of the support account represented less than one and a half per cent of the current levels of peacekeeping costs.  Those were not significant amounts, but they could make a very significant difference to the Organization’s ability to provide its peacekeepers with the support they needed.  The emergency request had two vital objectives.  First, it was necessary to provide more effective and sustained support to the approximately 58,000 peacekeeping personnel currently deployed in the field.  There was also an urgent need to put in place systems and procedures, so that when the next crisis arrived the Organization was better equipped to cope with it.  That reform was clearly needed, but it could not be achieved without resources.

    The Department of Peacekeeping Operations must be provided with staff in sufficient numbers and with an appropriate structure, he said, to effectively carry out the task of planning, deploying, managing and supporting peacekeeping operations.  The Brahimi proposals, if implemented, would achieve that essential goal.  Among the proposals was the establishment of an Office of Military and Civilian Police Affairs, which would encompass a stand-alone Civilian Police Division and a strengthened and restructured Military Division.  That would allow the Department to strengthen dialogue and consultations between the Secretariat, the Security Council and troop and police contributors throughout the life of a mission.  Such a frank exchange of information was essential to retain the Member States’ trust. 

    Also proposed was the transformation of the Lessons Learned Unit into a peacekeeping doctrine and best practices unit, and establishment of a small criminal law and judicial advisory unit, a gender unit and a public information unit.  To sum it up, the proposed changes reflected the multi-disciplinary nature of peacekeeping today.  They must be authorized if the Organization was to keep up with the challenges facing its peacekeepers.

    Turning to the tools necessary to anticipate and understand the root causes of the conflicts, he said that as recently as 10 days ago, the Security Council had reaffirmed its belief in the need to improve the information gathering and analysis capacity of the Secretariat.  The proposed establishment of the Executive Committee on Peace and Security Information and Strategic Analysis Secretariat was the answer to that need.  That structure would allow much better use of the wealth of information that already existed, and ensure that the humanitarian and development perspective was part of strategic analysis work and of the mission planning process.  Providing analytical support for the formulation of policy options and medium- to long-term strategies, it would also facilitate better cooperation and coordination between the Departments of Political Affairs and Peacekeeping Operations and other parts of the system.  And finally, it would help to better analyse and target its resources towards the root causes of potential conflicts. 

    Many members of the Fifth Committee wished to see a higher priority given to providing resources for development, he continued.  Fully sharing that concern, he had consistently called on Member States to increase their development assistance.  He hoped that the international community’s attention would be focused on that issue as the high-level event on financing for development approached.  But it would be folly to imagine that adequate resources would be made available for development by preventing the United Nations from developing an adequate capacity for peacekeeping.  The two activities were necessary complements to each other, and resources were needed for both.  Peace was a prerequisite for development.  Money spent on peacekeeping and conflict prevention would help create, or preserve, the conditions in which development could occur.  If the changes proposed by the Brahimi Panel were accepted, then the United Nations would be better equipped and prepared to protect the peoples of war-torn countries from further suffering.  If not, it would be them who would pay the price –- not the powerful or privileged of the world. 

    Another issue of utmost importance was staff security, he said.  It was simply unacceptable that United Nations staff should be given anything less than the utmost support.  Over the last year, there had been too many tragedies, from Africa to West Timor.  He had proposed a number of measures aimed at professionalizing and strengthening the security management system.  It was clear that the current system of funding did not work, and he sincerely hoped that Member States would endorse the recommendations before them, so that the Organization could take effective action to improve the safety of its staff.

     JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), on behalf of the European Union and associated countries, stressed that providing more effective support for peacekeeping operations was a priority for many African States facing serious crises and urgently needing a United Nations Secretariat that was fully able to handle the day-to-day conduct of peacekeeping operations.  United Nations support was very often the only support they would receive, and was, therefore, vital.

     United Nations support for conflict resolution was only one of the Organization’s many tasks, he pointed out.  United Nations action to foster development was another priority.  The two approaches were complementary; the effort required to begin putting the Panel’s recommendations into practice was in no way a substitute for efforts to assist development.  The cost of that effort seemed very reasonable when compared to the size of the regular budget or to the one for peacekeeping operations.

    He stressed that governments and the public would be unable to understand if the United Nations failed to take the initial measures on the Secretary-General’s proposals by the end of the year.  The matter was currently before various General Assembly bodies, which were working on aspects relevant to them.  The Fifth Committee needed to deal with aspects concerning the resources required.

     OLE PETER KOLBY, (Norway) said that it was the joint responsibility of all Member States to enable the United Nations to handle ever more complex peacekeeping challenges.  The growing demand for United Nations peacekeeping efforts underscored the need to close the gap between the tasks the Organization was asked to perform and the resources it had to do it.  The so-called zero nominal growth policy had become increasingly counterproductive, in terms of both implementing United Nations reform and allowing the Organization to respond to new challenges and tasks. 

     Welcoming the Brahimi Report, he said that when implemented, it would contribute significantly towards strengthening the United Nations capacity for planning and conducting complex peace operations.  Norway strongly supported the Brahimi Panel’s recommendations and the Secretary-General’s proposals to strengthen the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and other parts of the Secretariat involved.  Bearing in mind that prevention was much better than cure, he also strongly supported the Panel’s proposal to establish the Executive Committee on Peace and Security Information and Strategic Analysis Secretariat.  Such a secretariat would be an important early warning tool.  It would also be very helpful to the Security Council in its work with regard to mandates for future operations.

     The recommendations of the Panel on United Nations peacekeeping operations required resources, he continued.  The Secretary-General’s proposal was to increase the regular budget for 2000-2001 by some $7.5 million, including an increase of 35 posts.  The change in the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001 would amount to $14.7 million and include an increase of 214 posts.  Compared with the current regular budget appropriations, and the current level of peacekeeping costs, those were very small amounts. 

    The increase in resources for peacekeeping operations should not be at the expense of resources needed for development, he said.  The international community must take a long-term development approach in order to build sustainable peace.  A comprehensive approach to development and peace-building had long been one of the main focuses in Norwegian security and development policy and would continue to be so.   Everybody agreed that development could not take place without peace and stability, and that peace was conditional on development and justice.  Those issues could not be separated.  In the context of a comprehensive approach to development and peace-building, Norway supported the recommendations of the Brahimi Report and the proposed methods of implementing them, and accepted the financial consequences.  He also stressed the importance of a quick decision regarding the resource requirements for implementing the Brahimi Report.

     PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) noted that nobody understood better than the Secretary-General the gap between peacekeeping needs and the capacity of the United Nations to fulfil those needs.  Nobody was more aware of the action necessary to close that gap.  His experience of the Rwanda and Srebrenica tragedies, his appointment of the Brahimi Panel, and his prompt tabling of the implementation plan were all evidence of his strong commitment to help those who could not help themselves.

     He said the Panel had presented pragmatic and practical ideas for change, which Canada welcomed and supported fully.  Over the past few months, there had been encouraging signs that a broad partnership was coalescing, between the United Nations system, Member States and all other actors concerned, in responding to the need for more effective peacekeeping operations.  Member States, including Canada, had begun to evaluate their national capacity to respond and contribute to that need.  It was now the Fifth Committee’s turn.

    If Brahimi failed, he feared the United Nations would also fail and the Committee would share an important part in that failure, he stressed.  The vast majority of Member States cared about the United Nations.  Those which had the means and the capacity to help implement more effective peacekeeping, but lacked the will, should reconsider.  Refusal to pay their assessed contributions or hedging their payments with conditions encouraged those who would like to see the United Nations fail.

    Some Member States, particularly but not exclusively African States, needed and would continue to need United Nations services, he said.  Better peacekeeping did not necessarily equal fewer development funds.  If anything, the reverse was true.  There could be no development without peace and security.  The Secretary-General’s request for emergency resources should be considered in that context.

    The reputation, and possibly the future, of the United Nations was at stake, he stressed.  Its failures and near failures, in Rwanda, Srebrenica and most recently in Sierra Leone, had dwarfed its successes in the public mind.  It was to that public, whose sons and daughters participated in peacekeeping operations, that the United Nations must be accountable.

    SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea), supporting the request for a measured increase in electoral assistance, said electoral assistance was an integral part of post-conflict peace-building efforts.  The Republic of Korea, therefore, endorsed the strengthening of electoral assistance and the needs-assessment missions that were a prerequisite for all electoral assistance missions.

     While concurring that staff shortages were acutely felt in some sections of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, he said the request for additional support account posts needed more detailed post-by-post justification.  There had long been a need to define a baseline staffing and funding level in order for the Department to respond flexibly to changing needs.  Without a comprehensive review of staffing needs based on objective management and productivity criteria, an appropriate baseline was difficult to define.

     The report covered only supplemental increases for the programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001 and support account requirements from 1 January 2001 to 30 June 2001, he noted.  It addressed neither financial implications related to each individual peace operation, nor the recommendation for possible conversion of support account posts to the regular budget, nor other matters that were still under consideration.

    He stressed the high priority that his country attached to the recruitment and retention of efficient, competent and trained personnel for peacekeeping operations.  The Republic of Korea was concerned at the alarming trend of qualified personnel, the young in particular, leaving the United Nations.  That problem should be addressed on a priority basis.

     RICHARD HOLBROOKE (United States) said that the number of conflicts all over the world had brought the Organization to the brink of collapse, and  measures should be taken to address that situation.  Peacekeeping operations projected to cost nearly $3 billion had been approved this year.  There had also been tragic loss of lives on several continents.  Without further delay, it was Member States’ responsibility to reconcile their differences and deliver the necessary resources for important peacekeeping goals.  The peacekeeping scale of assessments should be brought up to date and made more equitable.  A solution was within reach, but time was running out rapidly.  Ingenuity, determination and flexibility were needed to reach it.

     The Brahimi Report had chartered the way for the future, he continued.  It was up to Member States to implement what had been tasked to them by the Millennium Summit, which had expressed support for the peacekeeping activities of the United Nations.  The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations was finishing its work, and soon it would be the turn of the Fifth Committee to consider the resources involved. 

    The Department of Peacekeeping Operations' capacity was severely inadequate, he said.  It currently had only 400 staff, who had to oversee and manage peacekeeping operations around the world.  The entire Kosovo mission, for example, was supported by only six permanent staff members.  That situation must be fixed.  In that respect, he welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to hold a comprehensive review of the matter.  Extensive work by the Brahimi Panel had advanced the Organization in the right direction, and the urgently needed resources should be ensured by the end of the year. 

    He supported the proposals intended to improve the structure of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, among which were the restructuring and strengthening of the military and civilian police divisions, including through the provision of the legal advice capacity, strengthening the office of operations and the logistics, and enhancing the United Nations capacity in the policy planning, information analysis and public information components of peace operations.  He also firmly believed that an additional Assistant Secretary-General post was necessary to strengthen the Department’s capacity.  The reform of peacekeeping should go hand in hand with human resources and management reform.  Also, troop- contributing countries who carried the burden and the human risks involved must have a stronger role in the structure of the Department. 

    Some had expressed concern that taking a decision on peacekeeping could come at the expense of development needs, he said.  Peacekeeping could be essential for development.  The most important point was that improving peacekeeping operations would need additional resources, which should not come at the expense of other core goals.

     The United States contribution to peacekeeping was directly related to what was being discussed, he said.  The United States arrears were influencing the activities of the United Nations.  The Clinton Administration was taking it very seriously, and the solution was on the way.  At the end of 1999, the United States had paid $100 million in arrears to the Organization, and it was now preparing to pay an additional $582 million at the end of this year, if necessary changes were made in the financing system.  There had been a dramatic increase in overall United States contributions to the United Nations system, especially in the category of voluntary donations. 

    His country would continue to be the single largest contributor to poverty eradication and development programmes, he said.  In the United States fiscal year 2001, which began on 1 October, it intended to pay, and had appropriated, $3.6 billion to the United Nations common system, excluding the $582 million in arrears.  That was an increase of $600 million in voluntary contributions alone. That position was fully supported by the United States Congress.  Those actions should address the concern that peacekeeping would be financed at the expense of development.  The money would go towards a broad array of activities.  United Nations financing should be placed on a stable footing, and he hoped that the next Congress would continue to provide necessary resources. 

    Unless the United Nations moved decisively, those who threatened peacekeepers across the globe could draw the conclusion that the United Nations lacked the will and cohesion to perform its basic peacekeeping function, he said. Peacekeepers should not be put at an avoidable risk.  They deserved support and a credible structure to manage peacekeeping operations into the future.  As the other Committees were wrapping up their work, the Fifth Committee was reaching its crescendo.  However, its task was achievable. 

     ANDRÉ ERDÖS (Hungary), associating himself with France’s statement on behalf of the European Union, supported a prompt start to implementation of the Brahimi Panel’s recommendations.  It was clear that the international community had no more time to lose and that the structures of the United Nations must be revised and modified.  However, that should not be done hastily and without mature reflection.  It was essential that the Fifth Committee make its own contribution in responding to the needs set out in the Brahimi report.

     VLADIMIR GALUSKA (Czech Republic), also associating himself with the European Union statement, said the time had come for comprehensive reform and restructuring of the whole peacekeeping system.  While the Czech Republic agreed that the detailed, full-scale consideration of the Panel’s far-reaching recommendations required time, that should not be an excuse for foot-dragging.  The Fifth Committee’s work was of utmost importance and should be given priority by all delegations.  Concrete results should be achieved before Christmas.

     AUDRA PLEPYTE (Lithuania) fully supported the statement by the representative of France on behalf of the European Union.  She said that one of the main activities of the United Nations was the maintenance of international peace and security.  Some United Nations peacekeeping missions had not achieved their objectives, mostly due to inadequacy of resources, mandate and lack of comprehensive vision.  In that respect, the report of the Panel, presented by the Secretary-General, was an important endeavour for strengthening United Nations peacekeeping and peace-building capabilities.  It went along with the recommendations made by heads of State and government during the Millennium Summit, to “make the United Nations more effective in maintaining peace and security by giving it the resources and tools it needs”. 

     Some of the recommendations needed comprehensive review and study, she continued.  In that regard, she noted the significant efforts already made by other United Nations bodies, which had taken up the report.  The Security Council had presented its views on how to improve its work in maintaining peace and security; and the Secretariat had submitted its report on the recommendations of the Panel.  The report was currently being considered by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).  The work of all those bodies was important and interrelated, and she believed that the Fifth Committee would substantially contribute to taking up some of the recommendations. 

     The implementation of the Brahimi Report should not be hindered, she said.  It was important to proceed with those recommendations of the Panel which were ready for implementation as of January 2001.  The request of the Millennium Summit to consider the recommendations of the Panel expeditiously should not be ignored.  It also went without saying that the enhancement of the peacekeeping function of the United Nations should not, in any way, overshadow its development activities. 

     EVA SILOT BRAVO (Cuba) said that the Fifth Committee still did not have the decision to be taken by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations or the Fourth Committee on the subject.  Nor did it have the report to be submitted by the ACABQ.  Her delegation hoped that, in accordance with the rules of the General Assembly, the formal consideration of the budgetary implications of the Brahimi Report would not take place before the decisions of other relevant bodies became available.  She would make her statement in the formal discussion of the matter at a later date. 

    Other Matters

     ABDOU AL-MOULA NAKKARI (Syria) asked when the Fifth Committee would complete its work in view of its long agenda, and whether night sessions would be needed.

     GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala), Committee Chairman, said it had been agreed, following a discussion last Wednesday, that 20 December would be the completion date.  It had also been agreed that the Committee would hold evening sessions.  If necessary, later the Bureau could recommend night meetings, though the preference would be to hold three meetings a day, in morning, afternoon and evening sessions.

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