Press Releases

     
    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/SG/2727
           28 November 2000
     Secretary-General Says Failure to Act Now on Peacekeeping
    Recommendations Package Will Weaken UN Capabilities
     

    NEW YORK, 27 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a statement made today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on the implementation of recommendations of his Panel on United Nations Peace Operations:

    I am pleased to join you today to address an issue of paramount importance for the ability of the Organization to carry out an essential part of its mission.  I refer to the critical task of strengthening the Organization’s effectiveness and capacity in the area of peace and security, as proposed by the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations.  

    I established this panel because I believed that the United Nations simply could not continue to do 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 have led to calamities –- for the weak and vulnerable people we seek to serve, for our brave and committed peacekeepers in the field, and for the Organization itself.

    No one in this room can doubt the gravity of this record.  The question, rather, is whether we collectively rise to this challenge, and whether you, the representatives of the Member States, will help us help the peoples you represent by authorizing the changes and improvements called for by the Brahimi panel.  I am aware that the Special Committee on Peacekeeping is finalizing its report on this matter, and do not intend to pre-empt its conclusions.  I do, however, wish to make clear how urgent and important I believe this matter to be.

    The Brahimi report examines a whole range of areas in which the United Nations has been too slow, too tied up in red tape, too weak or too fragmented to deal effectively with conflicts.  From early-warning to mission planning to the use of modern communications and information technology, the report represents the most significant effort to improve crisis response within the United Nations since our founding.  It is for you to answer its call.

    Let me say at the outset that I am well aware of the larger issues surrounding this emergency request: 

    -- that strengthening the United Nations Headquarters capacity does not solve all the problems facing peacekeeping today;

    -- that Member States must summon the political will necessary to supply the Organization with the support in troops and civilian personnel necessary to succeed;  

    -- and that there is a concern that not all peacekeeping duties are shared equally by the Member States, and that not all missions mandated by the Security Council receive equal or even adequate support.  Many delegations have deplored the “commitment gap” and the lack of political will to contribute to peacekeeping in Africa.  I share this concern.

    Even as we must address these fundamental political and structural issues, we have a basic and urgent need to strengthen the Department of Peacekeeping’s ability to support and guide the operations in the field.  It is in the field that we succeed or fail.  It is on the ground –- with an effective military and civilian presence, and with competent command and control structures –- where we can help or hinder, and where we must be strengthened.  This is the first priority -- to achieve real and immediate improvements in the Organization’s operational capacity.  This is truly an emergency requirement, demanding emergency action.

    If the Committee defers taking action on the emergency package now, it is inevitable that the peacekeeping personnel in the field –- and the peoples they seek to serve -- will be the ones who suffer and that our operational capabilities will be weakened on the ground.

    Let me underline the fact that the resources proposed represent less than half of 1 per cent of the current regular budget appropriations, and that those proposed in respect of the support account represent less than 1.5 per cent of the current levels of peacekeeping costs.  These are not significant amounts, but they can make a very significant difference to our ability to provide our peacekeepers with the support they need, and to their ability to carry out the mandates that the Member States have given them.

    The emergency request has two vital objectives: 

    First, we must provide more effective and sustained support to the approximately 58,000 peacekeeping personnel who are currently deployed in the field.  They are putting their lives on the line every day to carry out the mandates entrusted to them, often under very risky and unpredictable conditions.  

    And second, we urgently need people to put in place systems and procedures so that when the next crisis arrives -- as it surely will -- we are better equipped to cope with it.  This reform is clearly needed, but we cannot do it without resources.  It is simply not realistic to expect that it can be done by officials whose capacity is already stretched to breaking point running the current operations.  Do I need to remind you of the rapid and unforeseen growth in United Nations peacekeeping, which the Department has had to handle over the last 18 months?

    The Department of Peacekeeping Operations must be provided with staff in sufficient numbers, and an appropriate structure, to effectively carry out its tasks of planning, deploying, managing and supporting our peacekeeping operations.  The Brahimi proposals, if implemented, will achieve this essential goal.

    The proposals address a wide range of needs.  Among the structural changes proposed are the establishment of an Office of Military and Civilian Police Affairs, headed by an Assistant Secretary-General, which will encompass a stand-alone Civilian Police Division and a strengthened and restructured Military Division.  

    This office will also give greater priority to the relations between the Department and troop- and police-contributing States.  It will allow the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to strengthen dialogue and consultations between the Secretariat, the Security Council, and troop and police contributors throughout the life of a mission, in order to enable all parties concerned to make informed decisions on all aspects of an operation.  This frank exchange of information and open dialogue is essential if we are to retain the trust that Member States need to have in us, if they are to be willing to provide the resources needed and to assume the risks entailed in deploying peacekeepers.

    Also proposed is the transformation of the Lessons Learned Unit into a peacekeeping doctrine and best practices unit, a small criminal law and judicial advisory unit, a gender unit, and a public information unit.  

    In sum, these proposed changes reflect the multi-disciplinary nature of peacekeeping today, and must be authorized if we are to keep up with the changes in the environment facing our peacekeepers.

    I would now like to turn to the equally important challenge of equipping the Organization with the tools necessary to anticipate and understand the root causes of the conflicts we are asked to address.  As recently as 10 days ago, the Security Council 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 (EISAS) is the answer to this need -- nothing more, nothing less.  A small, multidisciplinary unit made of up staff from different backgrounds, it would serve the vital role of providing cross-cutting analysis to the Executive Committee on Peace and Security.

    This structure would allow much better use of the wealth of information already existing within the United Nations system and in open public sources.  It would ensure that the humanitarian and development perspective is part of the strategic analysis work and of the mission planning process.  It would facilitate better cooperation and coordination between the Department of Political Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and other parts of the system, as called for by Member States.  It would provide analytical support for the formulation by the system of policy options and medium- to long-term strategies of a cross-cutting nature, which increasingly require a multidisciplinary approach.  

    And, finally, it would help move the Organization to a point where, in close collaboration with the Member States concerned, it is able to better analyse, and target its resources at, the root causes of potential conflicts.  Surely, we can all agree on the importance of this service.

    In the Summit Declaration adopted by all heads of State and government they resolved, and I quote, “to make the United Nations more effective in maintaining peace and security, by giving it the resources and tools it needs for conflict prevention, peaceful resolution of disputes, peacekeeping, post conflict, peacebuilding and reconstruction”.  You will have noted that in the same Declaration the heads of States requested the General Assembly to consider the recommendations of the report expeditiously.  

    I am aware that many members of this Committee wish to see a higher priority given to providing resources for development.  I fully share that concern, and I have consistently called on Member States to increase their development assistance.   I hope we shall be able to focus the international community's attention on that issue as we approach the high-level event on financing for development.  

    But it would be folly to imagine that we can make adequate resources available for development by preventing the United Nations from developing an adequate capacity for peacekeeping.  

    The two activities are not alternatives but necessary complements to each other, and we need resources for both.  I have always said that development has no worse enemy than war.  For countries in conflict, therefore, and for their neighbours, peace is a prerequisite for development.  And money spent on peacekeeping and conflict-prevention will help create, or preserve, the conditions in which development can occur.

    If the changes proposed by the Brahimi panel are accepted, then we will be better equipped and better prepared to help protect the peoples of war-torn countries from further suffering.  If not, it is they who will pay the price –- not us, and not the powerful or privileged of our world.  For the latter, this is a matter of improving the United Nation’s capacity.  For the poor and powerless, it can literally be a matter of life and death.  We cannot in good conscience forget this essential truth as we deliberate about how best to strengthen the United Nation’s mission for peace and security.  The need is clear, the demands are urgent, and the solutions are within our reach.

    I wish to take this opportunity to raise a different issue about which I feel very strongly –- namely, staff security.  It is simply unacceptable that United Nations staff, who often have to brave dangers to which many armies do not expose their soldiers, should be given anything less than our utmost support.  

    Over the last year, we have faced too many tragedies, from Africa to West Timor, and I hope that you will take the necessary measures to enable the Organization to give this work the highest priority.  I have proposed a number of measures aimed at professionalizing and strengthening our security management  system through changes in the number of personnel, the training they receive, the services they provide and the equipment they use.  It is clear that the current system of funding does not work.  I sincerely hope, therefore, that you will endorse the recommendations that I have made, so that the Organization can take effective action to improve the safety of its staff.  That is surely the least that they are entitled to expect.  Thank you very much.

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