Press Releases

    GA/PK/183
    1 February 2005

    UN Needs to Consolidate Peacekeeping Success, Reforms Following 2004 Surge in Operations, Under-Secretary-General Tells Special Committee

    Also Stresses Sexual Abuse Allegations in Democratic Republic of Congo Must Be Swiftly Addressed

    NEW YORK, 31 January (UN Headquarters) -- With the increased demand for United Nations peacekeeping operations in 2004 representing a challenge not seen since the rapid increases in the scale and complexity of missions launched in the 1990s, the head of the world body’s peacekeeping operations today warned that the Organization needed to consolidate its successes and reforms, and “avoid taking on too much and spreading ourselves too thin”.

    “We will have our hands full”, said Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno of the coming year, as he opened the annual session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.  The United Nations had neither the resources nor the structure to keep launching one new mission after another and at the same time keep reform efforts on track, he said.  And although Member States agreed with the 2000 Brahimi Report that the Organization should be prepared to deploy no more than one complex peace mission a year, in the first half of 2004 alone, it had had to launch operations in Burundi, Haiti and Côte d’Ivoire in quick succession, virtually on the heels of having deployed to Liberia its largest-ever operation, at the end of 2003.

    And now, with the imminent deployment of a complex operation in the Sudan, while the United Nations was at the same time managing extremely complex and sensitive political processes in Kosovo, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Georgia, Mr. Guéhenno said that there comes a point when demands exceed your ability to get the job done properly and implement the necessary reforms to ensure better performance down the road.  “It is difficult to run and tie your shoe laces.  There is a danger that you will trip and fall ... I want to avoid that.”

    “I want us to take care of the loose ends, before we push our luck by taking on additional new complex operations in 2005, beyond the Sudan”, he said, adding:  “I would rather use whatever breathing space and time we can steal to clarify our strategic direction and invest in the reforms needed to improve the performance of missions that may be established in 2006 and 2007”.  Addressing another pressing issue, he stressed the importance of swiftly addressing the allegations of sexual abuse against personnel in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).  “We need your help to send the right message to them, by taking swift action where clearly warranted, while respecting due process and the presumption of innocence before guilt is proven.”

    Morocco’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said the surge in demand for peacekeeping activities required a genuine and concerted response by the entire membership.  Member States should ensure that peace operations had the necessary political support, adequate human, financial and logistical resources, and clear, realistic and achievable mandates.  He was concerned at the Secretary-General’s assessment that peacekeeping continued to face “significant gaps”, particularly in the areas of enabling and niche capabilities and strategic and sea-lift.

    The Non-Aligned Movement contributed more than 80 per cent of the troops, he said, stressing that that peacekeeping was more successful when it was truly an expression of international commitment to peace and security, with developed countries “ramping up” their participation, especially those with niche capabilities.  On the allegations against mission personnel of sexual abuse, he said peacekeepers must be made fully aware of their duties and obligations, and of the consequences of misconduct.  That aspect should form an integral part of the pre-deployment and in-mission training of all peacekeeping personnel.  He called for a serious and careful examination of the problem and asked the Secretary-General to prepare a comprehensive report, aimed at increasing understanding of those issues.

    Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Luxemburg said that, because of the surge in operations, the costs of peacekeeping had risen substantially.  As the largest collective financial contributor to the United Nations peacekeeping budget, the countries of the Union considered an efficient and effective use of funds of the utmost importance, in order to be able to sustain operations in the long term.  In that regard, financial rules and regulations needed to be adjusted to the latest developments in peacekeeping and the most accurate standards in accounting.

    He also reiterated strong commitment to strengthening the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel deployed in the field.  He welcomed the creation of a new strengthened and unified security management system for the United Nations, by which safety and security would be considerably improved.  Further, he urged those States that had not yet done so to consider becoming parties to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, as a matter of priority; and also urged the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to establish an appropriate coordination mechanism with the Department of Security, providing integrated and unified security assessments, operational advice and support in crisis management down to peacekeeping missions.

    The representative of the Republic of Korea hailed the Department’s proposal to create a strategic reserve, to be divided into several task forces of some 1,250 troops each.  Such a reserve would fill an important gap in current peacekeeping capabilities and allow the United Nations to intervene in conflicts where a rapid reaction was essential; during an emerging conflict, each hour of delay could mean life or death to those in danger.  Additional details on the operational, logistical and financial arrangements of the reserve, however, must be clarified.

    Adding a standing capacity to United Nations civilian police activities was equally important, he said.  Although rule of law was an urgent concern in post-conflict situations, particularly in the formative phase of a new mission, the United Nations, at times, had been unable to undertake timely initiatives, due to a shortage in civilian police rapid response capacity.  The Secretariat was exploring ways to alleviate that situation, and he looked forward to an in-depth debate on the proposal.

    The Special Committee was established by the General Assembly in 1965 to conduct a comprehensive review of all issues relating to peacekeeping.  It reports to the Assembly on its work through the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) and it is comprised of 113 Member States, mostly past or current contributors of peacekeeping personnel.  Others participate as observers.

    At the outset of the meeting, the Special Committee re-elected the Permanent Representative of Nigeria as its Chair.  The newly elected Bureau included Vice-Chairs Alberto Pedro D’Alotto (Argentina), Glyn Berry (Canada), Koji Haneda (Japan), and Beata Peksa-Krawiec (Poland) and Rapporteur Alaa Issa (Egypt).

    Also speaking today were the representatives of Nigeria, Argentina (on behalf of the Rio Group), Egypt, New Zealand (also on behalf of Canada and Australia (CANZ)), Japan, Zimbabwe, Peru, Norway, Brazil, Syria, Zambia, Chile and Thailand.

    The Special Committee will reconvene at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, to continue its general debate.

    Background

    The General Assembly’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations met this morning to begin the general debate of its 2005 session.

    Statement by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations

    JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, said that, too often, the United Nations spent a great deal of effort and money making up for lost time and correcting mistakes committed at the outset of missions.  “But imagine if we are able to deploy, within 72 hours, 20 highly skilled police specialists, geographically and gender balanced, who have trained and worked together before, to plan and kick start United Nations police mandates”, he said.  They could probably make more of an impact than 10 times their numbers of generalists, trickling in piecemeal, over the course of several months.

    “And what if there were predictable and rapid military responses available to shore up a United Nations peacekeeping operation threatened by crises beyond its means to contain?” he asked.  The proposed strategic reserve force would be an important insurance policy for the substantial investments Member States made in such complex operations.  The certainty that a mission could be provided with swift additional help if seriously challenged could also deter potential spoilers.

    Turning to the most important developments in the Organization’s peacekeeping operations during the past year and to spotlight particular issues in the Committee’s annual report (document A/58/19), he began by noting some of the positive, “under-the-radar” developments, including that several missions had met or exceeded expectations, and a few were preparing to wind down, having successfully completed their mandates.  A substantial number of the reforms in the Brahimi Report had been implemented and had improved the way the Department of Peacekeeping Operations deployed missions.  “We continue to get better at what we do”, he said.  “Your investments over the past year have paid off –- they will continue to yield dividends in the years to come.”

    He said he was, nevertheless, concerned about taking on too much and spreading the Department’s resources too thin.  Despite the successes and the depth of the reform, several missions were operating in volatile and precarious environments and needed to be bolstered and supported, in order to achieve their mandated objectives.  And there were complex strategic dilemmas about the direction United Nations peacekeeping should take over the next five to 10 years, the implications of which had yet to be fully thought through, let alone reconciled.  For those and other reasons, he hoped that the Organization would not be required to deploy any new complex peacekeeping operations in 2005, beyond what was already on its plate or in the pipeline.

    In addition, the allegations that personnel from the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) had sexually exploited and abused Congolese was cause for serious concern.  “Just as the catastrophic failure of any one operation could irreparably erode public confidence in UN peacekeeping, so, too, could acts of gross misconduct, if we do not respond to them with the utmost seriousness in 2005”, he said, adding:  “We have a real substantive problem, not just a PR issue that needs to be ‘spun’.”  It had to be dealt with collectively, aggressively and quickly.  And the whole peacekeeping community must keep it from happening elsewhere.

    Highlighting some of the achievements of United Nations missions in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Liberia and Burundi, he said that in total some 120,000 military and civilian police personnel, drawn from over 100 countries had rotated through those operations in 2004.  The United Nations had generated resources and supported them, this time around, in a manner that no other organization in the world could have replicated as efficiently or as cost-effectively.  And while a great deal had been accomplished with the help of troop-contributing countries and Member States:  “There should be no illusions... the road ahead in Afghanistan, Burundi, Liberia, Haiti, the DRC and Côte d’Ivoire will be perilous”.

    In addition, political processes the United Nations was currently managing in Kosovo, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and Georgia remained extremely complex and sensitive.  Add to that nine very fluid cases, several other more predictable, yet important operations, and the imminent deployment of a complex operation to the Sudan, Africa’s largest country.  “We will have our hands full”, he said.  Moreover, the Department had neither the resources nor the structure to keep launching one new mission after another, while keeping reform efforts on track.  And while Member States had agreed during the negotiations on the Brahimi Report that the Organization was able to launch one complex peace mission a year, in the first half of 2004 alone, it had had to launch operations in Burundi, Haiti, and Côte d’Ivoire in quick succession, virtually on the heels of having deployed its largest-ever operation in Liberia, at the end of 2003.

    The numbers he had mentioned earlier were impressive, but they came at a cost, he said.  “I am certain that there would be more consistency in the quality of people we recruit, if we were not overwhelmed by the sheer quantitative demands”, he said, adding that he was also convinced that much more could have been done to prepare mission staff to do their jobs, if only one new operation had been launched in 2004, rather than three.  “We are still facing difficulties putting together quickly the right mission leadership teams to provide them with the type of standardized induction and orientation that they deserve.”  He also noted strategic difficulties facing the mission launching process -- “complex” as opposed to “traditional” theatres, and “light footprint” as opposed to “heavy deployment-type” operations.

    In summary, the Committee needed to reflect on the Department’s strategic direction, consolidate the reform effort, make the Sudan a model deployment, and give proper attention and support to existing operations, at least nine of which were extremely active, operationally challenging and politically complex.  He stressed that one of the lessons of the 1990s had been that the United Nations had been asked to take on too many peacekeeping operations, with too few resources, in too many places were they did not necessarily belong.  “Let’s not repeat history”, he said.  There came a point when demands exceeded the ability to get the job done properly.  “It is difficult to run and tie your shoe laces”, he said.  “There is a danger that you will trip and fall... I want to avoid that.  I want us to take care of the loose ends, before we push our luck by taking on additional new complex operations in 2005, beyond Sudan.”

    “I would rather use whatever breathing space and time we can steal to clarify our strategic direction and invest in the reforms needed to improve the performance of missions that may be established in 2006 and 2007”, he said.  Concluding with thanks to the thousands of peacekeepers and mission leaders risking their lives every day, he returned to the importance of swiftly addressing the allegations of sexual abuse.  The multilateral system was under strain at the moment, he said, and its capacity to absorb bad news was weak.  Scores of MONUC personnel, in all categories, had been alleged to have solicited prostitutes and, in several cases, the charges were obviously criminal in nature, involving rape, including children.  “We need your help to send the right message to them, by taking swift action where clearly warranted, while respecting due process and the presumption of innocence before guilt is proven.”  He also called on Member States to help address shortcomings in the Department’s investigative capacities and to make significant improvements in prevention measures.  A drastic overhaul of the system would be required, and the report before the Committee indicated that the Secretary-General would be willing to put bold, imaginative creative ideas on the table for the Committee and Member States to consider.

    General Debate Statements

    In his national capacity, AMINU B. WALI (Nigeria), Chairman of the Special Committee, said that today’s conflicts had become complex in scope and nature.  Consequently, their management and resolution made it imperative for the United Nations system to work in partnership with regional and subregional organizations.  The efforts must continue to be all-encompassing, covering such areas as the promotion of human rights, law enforcement, civil administration, and enhancement of the safety and security of United Nations personnel and associated staff engaged in humanitarian work.  Nigeria had been a major troop contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations for more than four decades, within which, peacekeeping and peacemaking had featured prominently in the country’s foreign policy objectives.  It had also played a significant role in regional and subregional peacekeeping and peacemaking for the past 15 years.

    He said that, like many other troop-contributing countries, Nigeria had made huge sacrifices in human, material and financial terms in the maintenance of international peace and security.  The various measures to enhance the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ effectiveness had made it possible for the Department to manage complex peacekeeping operations.  He urged that the momentum be maintained to ensure that the United Nations retained the capacity to respond in a timely and effective manner, in support of peace operations.  Despite the best efforts of the United Nations, however, conflicts appeared to be on the rise, resulting in a surge in demand for peacekeeping.  He supported the Secretary-General’s various proposals to improve the qualitative aspects of the Secretariat’s management performance to meet those challenges, and stressed the need for strategic planning.  Of equal importance were the proposals to improve the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ rapid deployment capabilities.

    Also welcome had been the Secretary-General’s proposals on the Strategic Reserve and the Department’s development of a department-wide training policy to coordinate specialized training and integrate the training of different categories of personnel for peace operations, he said.  He noted the increase in the number of international and local staff serving in those operations, but viewed with concern the fact that some major troop-contributing countries were not adequately represented in either the Secretariat or field missions.  More could be achieved if those countries that committed their troops in the field were properly represented in the staffing of missions.  He commended the recent United Nations Training Assistant Team Course in Nigeria, and his country looked forward to hosting the pilot training programme of the Senior Strategic Mission Managers Course at the National War College in Abuja in April.  He also praised United Nations’ efforts to enhance the African Union’s peacekeeping capacity.

    JEAN-MARC HOSCHEIT (Luxembourg), speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, noting that, because of the surge in operations, the costs of peacekeeping had risen substantially.  As the largest collective financial contributor to the United Nations peacekeeping budget, the countries of the Union considered an efficient and effective use of funds of the utmost importance, in order to be able to sustain operations in the long term.  In that regard, financial rules and regulations needed to be adjusted to the latest developments in peacekeeping and the most accurate standards in accounting.

    He said the Union remained committed to working with the world Organization in the field of crisis management and would, from 13 to 15 April this year, hold in Brussels, a European Union-United Nations seminar on crisis management, to which regional organizations would also be invited to participate as observers.  At the current session of the Special Committee, the Union would focus on five priority areas responding to the key issues raised in the Secretary-General’s report:  safety and security; strengthening the United Nations operational capacity; police issues; enhancing African peacekeeping capacity and cooperation with regional organizations; and, last, peace-building in the context of peacekeeping operations.

    Additionally, members stressed their concern about recent reports about the sexual misconduct of peacekeepers, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and welcomed the Secretary-General’s strong stance on the matter and supported initial actions taken, including the appointment of an adviser on the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping personnel.  Strongly reiterating the Union’s call that the perpetrators of sexual exploitation and abuse be brought to justice, thus effectively ending impunity, the Union, in that regard, requested the Secretary-General to submit as soon as possible a comprehensive report with concrete recommendations on the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping personnel.  It was the Union’s opinion that the report be discussed as soon as it became available.

    Elaborating on some of the key aspects of the five priority areas addressed in the Union’s position papers, Mr. Hoscheit reiterated strong commitment to strengthening the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel deployed in the field.  He welcomed the creation of a new strengthened and unified security management system for the United Nations, by which safety and security would be considerably improved.  Further, he urged those States that had not yet done so to consider becoming parties to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, as a matter of priority; and also urged the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to establish an appropriate coordination mechanism with the Department of Security providing integrated and unified security assessments, operational advice and support to crisis management down to peacekeeping missions.

    On strengthening the Organization’s operational peacekeeping capacity, he said the Union stood ready to engage with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Member States and other relevant actors to further define that concept and put forward proposals.  Further efforts were also needed to strengthen the rapid deployment capabilities of the United Nations in other areas, he said.  Militarily coherent, well-trained and cohesive headquarters were essential to achieving the degree of command and control necessary for effective implementation of complex mandates.  On police issues, the Union reiterated that civilian police with executive tasks should be granted personnel privileges and immunities equivalent to those of armed military personnel, bearing in mind the need for accountability.  To that end, the Union looked forward to receiving more information about the creation of a small corps of senior police officers and managers to undertake mission assessments and start-up police components of peace operations.

    Regarding enhancing the African peacekeeping capacity and cooperation with regional organizations, Mr. Hoscheit said the Union was committed to support and work with the African Union and the African subregional organizations as the central actors in the peacekeeping process in Africa.  He encouraged the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to provide African peacekeeping training centres with the necessary support for the training, the development and the equipment of African military, civilian police and civilian specialists.  Lastly, on peace-building in the context of peacekeeping operations, he said, given the complexity of peace-building challenges, a United Nations system-wide approach was needed to ensure effective strategies for implementation of peacekeeping/peace-building policies and use of resources in the field.

    In that context, it was vital that the United Nations system had a shared assessment of peace-building needs and integrated plans for missions, he said.  The Union, he added, stressed the need for coordination both at Headquarters and in mission areas, with all relevant stakeholders, including national partners, the United Nations development and humanitarian agencies, the Bretton Woods institutions, local civil society organizations, international non-governmental organizations, donors and relevant regional organizations, from the early stages of fact-finding and assistance planning, to joint programming, evaluation and exchange of best practices/lessons learned.  In addition, gender issues needed to be addressed systematically in all aspects and phases of the peace process and, to that end, the Union urged the United Nations system to ensure that measures to prevent and respond to gender-based violence and situations of armed conflict were established.

    The Union supported the overall strengthening of United Nations capabilities in the rule of law and in improving consultations with Member States so as to mobilize their available resources and expertise, he said.  The Union further encouraged cooperation with the private sector, given its important role in supporting peace-building and longer-term development.

    MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco), on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said that establishment by the United Nations of any peace operation under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, or extension of a mandate, should not only be based on the consent of the parties, but also on the non-use of force, except in self-defence.  Impartial and clearly defined mandates, as well as secure financing, were also essential.  Peacekeeping was important to maintaining international peace and security, but it was not a substitute for a permanent solution or for addressing the underlying causes of a conflict.  Peacekeeping had proven itself to be most useful when, as a temporary measure, it had contributed to maintaining a ceasefire or a cessation of hostilities.  In those cases, peace operations had not only lessened the possibility of a future escalation, but had also provided an atmosphere conducive to ending the conflict.

    He said that for any cooperation between the Security Council, the Secretariat and troop contributors to be meaningful, there must be a sustained, regular and timely interaction.  Troop contributors should be involved “early and fully” in the planning of a peace mission –- from implementation, mandate renewal, change or termination -- as well as and when there was a rapid deterioration of the situation on the ground, particularly when that threatened peacekeepers’ safety and security.  He called for more frequent meetings of the Security Council working group with troop-contributing countries, as well as for an intensification of dialogue between the troop contributors and the Secretariat.  The Non-Aligned Movement also recognized the importance of cooperation with regional arrangements, including African regional and subregional organizations.

    The surge in demand for peacekeeping activities required a genuine and concerted response by the entire membership, he said.  Member States should ensure that peace operations had the necessary political support, adequate human, financial and logistical resources, and clear, realistic and achievable mandates.  He was concerned at the Secretary-General’s assessment that peacekeeping continued to face “significant gaps”, particularly in the areas of enabling and niche capabilities and strategic and sea-lift.  The Non-Aligned Movement, which contributed more than 80 per cent of the troops, remained committed to supporting United Nations peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.  He stressed, however, that peacekeeping was more successful when it was truly an expression of international commitment to peace and security, with developed countries “ramping up” their participation, especially those with niche capabilities.

    He said that mechanisms, such as the pre-mandate commitment authority and strategic deployment stocks, had strengthened the United Nations’ capacity to provide logistical support to personnel deployments.  In that regard, the Non-Aligned Movement called for a review of the existing level of pre-mandate commitment authority and the replenishment of strategic deployment stocks.  It supported the call for rapid deployment, but urged the Secretariat to optimize all existing aspects of the pre-mandate operational preparedness and deployment.  It also called for more efficient management of the financial and logistical aspects of peace operations, both at Headquarters and in the field, in order to make deployment both rapid and effective.  Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) were crucial components of peace processes and peace operations.  Its success depended on the political will of all parties.  Also, early planning and coordination, along with early and sustained funding, were key elements for effective DDR programmes.

    All personnel accredited to United Nations missions must act in a manner that preserved the image, credibility, impartiality and integrity of the Organization, he said.  Acts of omission and commission by peacekeepers that detracted from that image were unacceptable, and the Non-Aligned Movement endorsed the Organization’s position of “zero tolerance” on that matter.  Peacekeepers must be made fully aware of their duties and obligations, and of the consequences of misconduct.  That aspect should form an integral part of the pre-deployment and in-mission training of all peacekeeping personnel.  He called for a serious and careful examination of the problem and asked the Secretary-General to prepare a comprehensive report, aimed at increasing understanding of those issues.

    ALBERTO PEDRO D’ALOTTO (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said his delegation would reiterate its belief that peacekeeping operations were one of the most effective means through which the United Nations could address threats to international peace and security.  At the same time, such operations had often proved unable to effectively address the root causes of conflict, such as underlying socio-economic problems.  The Rio Group would, therefore, prioritize conflict prevention as one way to counter many of the issues that might foment conflict or heighten tensions.

    Over the past few years, United Nations peacekeeping missions had become ever more complex and had begun to take on more and more peace-building and social reintegration tasks, he went on.  There was, therefore, a need for them to adopt broad approaches, and to enhance peacekeeping mandates, as well as the training of troops and other staff, to address those new challenges.  The Rio Group also supported integrating a gender perspective in all peacekeeping operations, he said, urging Member States to put forward more female candidates for positions in United Nations missions in that regard.

    Turning to the work at hand for the Committee, he expressed his hope that the proposals for establishing a strategic reserve force, and standing police capacity, would be considered at length.  He stressed that there was a need to ensure that all deployed personnel -- military, police and civilian personnel -- had available all necessary resources and basic necessities, as well as everything needed to maintain their security and safety.  He also stressed the need to continue to ensure that adequate legal frameworks were put in place before operations were deployed.

    The United Nations must find a way to ensure rapid deployment, as well as withdrawal and reimbursement.  He reiterated the importance of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, and stressed that further support and resources be devoted to such programmes, as well as to those mission-led initiatives aimed at enhancing local judicial and law enforcement capacities.

    On the allegations of sexual exploitation against MONUC staff, he said the Rio Group condemned such practices and was seriously concerned at the implications such actions had for the entire United Nations system.  He urged the Department and Secretariat to do all necessary to ensure that those parties found responsible were swiftly brought to justice.  On other issues, he said the Rio Group supported enhancing the links between field offices and the Secretariat, as well as all efforts to ensure an efficient and well-defined chain of command.  He called for enhanced support of police forces in the field and for development of regional and local civilian peacekeeping capacities.  The Rio Group would also like to see enhanced communication and dissemination of information about peacekeeping operations in general.  He concluded by praising all those working in the field to ensure peace and development around the world.  The Rio Group pledges to continue to support United Nations peacekeeping missions as substantially as it had in the past.

    MAGED ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that United Nations peacekeeping activities had witnessed many substantive developments, including those stemming from the different nature of conflicts and the development of the principal concepts governing international relations. The result had been that peacekeeping operations were now carried out in the context of progressively evolving legislative and philosophical terms of reference.  The United Nations had seen a similar stage in the early 1960s and, to the many challenges facing peacekeeping activities, it had proven its ability to “step up to the plate” by progressively improving its capacities and making the necessary adjustments.  It should be able to do so now.

    He said that peacekeeping operations could be enhanced by stressing the centrality of the rules that governed them and by continually enhancing the relationship between the United Nations and regional organizations in the field, particularly in Africa.  It might be impossible to decisively settle the substantive challenges relative to the concept and context of sovereignty and the principle of the use of force and the limits of such use, but that did not diminish the need to chart a strategy.  The Secretary-General, in his report, had made the extremely important point about the use of overlapping and confusing terms, that the time had come for the Special Committee to discuss the idea, beyond linguistic misnomers, and focus on the core issues underpinning the philosophy of peacekeeping operations themselves, as introduced by the General Assembly and embedded in the United Nations Charter.

    The Secretary-General had also recommended that a general strategy be set forth through an integrated planning process at Headquarters, he said.  At a time when the report itself had admitted that the integration concept was still a “work in progress”, and the practical experience of the past three years had proven that it had scored only limited success, he looked forward to the Secretary-General’s greater detail, so the Special Committee could decide on the utility, or lack thereof, of an integration planning process.  He also looked forward to further details on the proposal on strategic stocks and civil police enhancement, among others.  Despite some positive signs, the scale of consultations of the Security Council with troop-contributing countries was still “far from satisfactory”.  The Council was satisfied with instructing the troop contributors, rather than consulting actively with them.  Those consultations should be activated and the Security Council working group on peacekeeping operations should be revived.

    He stressed the vital relationship between peacemaking efforts and the medium- and long-term activities under way in conflict areas.  On discipline and the misconduct of United Nations personnel, he stressed the need for a maximum commitment to the field activities of the United Nations, while also stressing the need for the Secretariat’s total transparency in that regard. He looked forward to the Special Committee’s discussion on the matter in the present session.  Peacekeeping operations were not born in a vacuum, but were the total sum of many complementary elements -- the financing and participation by Member States, and the Secretariat’s effective performance.  Further success required that the Special Committee work during the coming weeks to achieve compatibility with its recommendations and the Secretariat’s implementation requirements.

    TIM McIVOR (New Zealand), on behalf of the CANZ group of countries -- Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- said that the Special Committee had accepted that peacekeeping was more complex, along a continuum from peacemaking to peacekeeping and peace-building.  In keeping with the Secretary-General’s statement to the European Union in December 2004 that 2005 must be a year of bold action, Mr. McIvor urged the Special Committee to be the first to illustrate its willingness to take bold steps and ensure that it was acting in the best interests of international peace and security.  “Let us be innovative and pragmatic in addressing pressing issues and the many challenges in security, peace and stability in the world”, he said.  First among the serious challenges to United Nations peace support operations was the immediate need to address the incidences of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, misconduct and poor discipline. The second was the surge in demand for peace support operations, and the third was the need to now fully support implementation of the new United Nations security management system.

    He said that the fourth task was the promotion and comprehensive implementation of a holistic and integrated approach to peace support operations, including grappling with effective protection of civilians.  Two other matters of a more technical nature were the development of the standardized training modules, which was paramount to enhancing the readiness of national military personnel and civilian police, and coming to grips with the problem of the discriminatory remuneration treatment of staff offices in United Nations missions relative to military observers, civilian police and United Nations civilians.  As an interim measure, he recommended that staff officers be given military observer status until it was determined that they should be categorized otherwise.

    Returning to the issue of inappropriate conduct, he said the Committee must address that issue “head on” with bold action by all.  What good were the missions if their personnel could not retain the trust of the very people they were designed to protect? he asked.  Misconduct and poor discipline took many forms, and each must be addressed frankly and comprehensively.  Nothing damaged the reputation of United Nations peace support operations, and the United Nations itself, more than sexual exploitation and violence.  The Secretary-General had been emphatic in his “zero tolerance” policy, and he had led the way in his bulletin on special measures in that regard (document ST/SGB/2003/13), and his appointment of an adviser on the issue.  He asked the Secretary-General to present his comprehensive report and recommendations no later than the end of April.  It might also be time for the Special Committee to consider some form of measuring a contingent’s performance, which took into account not only the serviceability of its equipment, but also the performance of its personnel.

    He said that the current surge in demand could not be managed by the United Nations alone.  He reiterated the importance and legitimacy of non-United Nations-commanded peace support operations, whose significance, including for the United Nations itself, had been evident in many cases, including INTERFET’s (International Force for East Timor) role in Timor-Leste, Canada’s role in the multinational force in Haiti, and the African Union today in Darfur, Sudan.  He also recalled the complementarity between the United Nations and other organizations, such as Multinational Standby Forces High Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG) in Liberia and now in the Sudan.  He looked forward to the ways in which the planned European Rapid Reaction Force might contribute to an effective international response to the current surge.  Regional cooperation in Bougainville, for example, had facilitated the transition to a United Nations mission overseen by the Department of Political Affairs.  Such unique missions had been essential pathfinders for the United Nations, and each had their place in the increasing panoply of peace operations.

    SHINICHI KITAOKA (Japan) said peacekeeping operations provided an effective option for the promotion of conflict resolution, as had been shown by the recent comprehensive peace agreement signed to end the north-south conflict in the Sudan, which had benefited from the assistance of a United Nations peace mission.  The launch of a full-fledged mission in the Sudan, if approved, would require a further expansion of the number and scale of peace operations. The current pace of expansion could not be sustained without further cooperation from Member States.  “Securing the necessary human and financial support will present a challenge for us all”, he said, adding that Japan was willing to give ample consideration to the responsibilities of developed countries, as outlined in the report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.

    At the same time, in response to the concerns raised that the recent budgetary expansion of peace operations had reached some $4.5 billion a year, the Security Council needed to be more accountable, and Japan, as a current member of that 15-nation body, was ready to play an active role to that end.  Japan would emphasize the necessity of ensuring the effective and efficient management of peace missions, and would likewise stress that the tasks, size and structure of such operations be reviewed periodically, with the appropriate setting of completion strategies.  Japan also believed the Organization should further explore the possibility of more flexibly allocating resources among missions deployed in the same region.

    He joined other speakers in stressing the necessity of ensuring the quality and discipline of staff in the field, in light of the troubling allegations of sexual abuse that had been levelled against MONUC.  One of the most important objectives of the Special Committee’s currently session would be to adopt effective preventive measures, so that sexual abuse and other illegal acts would not be committed.  It would also have to approve procedures that would ensure that those that violated such policies were brought to justice.

    Turing to some specific issues highlighted in the High-Level Panel’s report, he agreed with those experts that the United Nations rapid-deployment capabilities needed to be enhanced. Japan was prepared, in that regard, to seriously consider the creation of a strategic reserve force, including the feasibility of such a force and making sure that its effectiveness and efficiency could be guaranteed.  The Panel had also correctly observed that there was an institutional gap in the United Nations system that hindered it from effectively and coherently addressing many issues involved in peace-building.  It had proposed establishing a peace-building commission and Japan considered that recommendation a positive step forward.  But, Japan saw “some potential problems” in making such a commission a subsidiary body of the Security Council, and hoped that the Committee could give the proposal careful study.

    FRANCIS MUTISI (Zimbabwe) said that, as the Secretary-General observed, the United Nations had already provided some assistance to African Union peacekeeping efforts and it must be ready to “provide a new level of support” as the Union moved forward.  The United Nations needed to be guided by the principles of flexibility and openness, and to support any initiative that promised to add real peacekeeping capacity, while eschewing any mechanism that would limit the room for non-African Member States to shoulder some of the continent’s peacekeeping burden.  The Union was in the process of establishing an African standby force and had until 2010 to realize that plan.  That enormous task could not be achieved without the support of the international community and other alliances.  The current support towards enhancing the Union’s capacity was still provided in a fragmented approach and might not achieve the desired results by 2010.

    A more coordinated and centralized support by the international community, he continued, would be effective and lead to the achievement of the African standby force by 2010. He envisioned the creation of a logistical base in each subregion, in the long term.  Once the enhancement of the Union’s capacity has been completed, the current disparities in manpower and material responses that existed between missions in Africa and elsewhere would be history. The fear of deploying personnel to unfamiliar environments and cultures would be erased, as Africa would take the lead in operations within its borders.

    ROLANDO RUIZ ROSAS (Peru) said the United Nations was facing a higher demand for “Blue Helmets” and was currently managing 17 peacekeeping missions, but what distinguished that from earlier periods was that the demand was not to prevent conflicts between States, but to prevent armed domestic conflicts.  The nature, mandate and structure of peacekeeping operations had changed, taking on a multi-dimensional character that reinforced their military character and also included a political component.  Those adaptations should not detract from addressing the common denominator of all conflict, namely exclusion, poverty and marginalization.  Fundamental to the peacekeeping missions’ success was the development and inclusion of multidimensional nation-building programmes.  Without the sustained effort of the international community in that respect, there could be no lasting peace in those societies shattered by war.

    Furthermore, he said, each peacekeeping operation must be tailored to each situation and should support the development of national capacities that were sustainable, viable and consistent.  The rapid deployment of troops was another critical factor, added to the time it took the Security Council to make the relevant decisions.  Thus, he fully respected the proposal to establish a reserve force on a voluntary basis, and he had appreciated steps by the Secretariat to do so.  During the current session, it should be possible to lay down clear and consistent guidelines to allow the Secretariat to fully elaborate the concept.

    In the past year, Peru had increased its commitment to peace operations, in compliance with its memorandum of understanding for its contributions to the system, he said.  It had sent personnel to the missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea and Ethiopia, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and Burundi.  It had also contributed to Argentina’s troop contingent in Cyprus, as well as to the regional commitment in Haiti.  Peru had also sought to meet its financial commitments to peace operations.  The shameful misconduct of military and civilian personnel in the Democratic Republic of the Congo must not be tolerated or go unpunished.  Such grave acts must not be allowed to dishonour the operations or the great name of those who served them with their skills and their lives.  Peru had established a joint training centre for peace operations, but the budgetary reality at the United Nations had prevented the convening of a second seminar.  It remained at the Organization’s service for such activities, he said.

    HA CHAN-HO (Republic of Korea) said his country had actively participated in critical peacekeeping operations around the world, from Somalia and Angola to Timor-Leste and Western Sahara, and it was also contributing a significant number of troops to the United Nations-authorized multinational peace operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The surge in demand for peacekeeping operations, however, had placed enormous stress on the United Nations response capacity.  Over the past year alone, four complex operations had been either newly mandated and deployed or significantly expanded -- in Côte d’Ivoire, Haiti, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- and a major operation was expected to begin shortly in the Sudan.  The sheer scale and complexity of those new operations had “stretched the resources of the United Nations to full capacity”.

    He said he appreciated the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ proposal to create a strategic reserve, to be divided into several task forces of some 1,250 troops each.  Such a reserve would fill an important gap in current peacekeeping capabilities and allow the United Nations to intervene in conflicts where a rapid reaction was essential; during an emerging conflict, each hour of delay could mean life or death to those in danger.  Additional details on the operational, logistical and financial arrangements of the reserve, however, must be clarified.  Adding a standing capacity to United Nations civilian police activities was equally important.  Although rule of law was an urgent concern in post-conflict situations, particularly in the formative phase of a new mission, the United Nations, at times, had been unable to undertake timely initiatives, due to a shortage in civilian police rapid-response capacity.  The Secretariat was exploring ways to alleviate that situation, and he looked forward to an in-depth debate on the proposal.

    The decision-making process for peacekeeping operations should be re-examined and undertaken with the full involvement of the financial contributing countries, he said.  Also important were routine consultations between all major stakeholders and the main peacekeeping decision-making bodies.  Given the integration of complex and multidimensional mandates that stretched from peacekeeping to peace-building, the division of work among all major stakeholders, including the international financial institutions, should be studied.  He also strongly supported an increased role for regional organizations.  Despite some positive developments in African peacekeeping, efforts to bolster those countries’ peacekeeping capabilities must continue.  Operational cooperation between and among the United Nations peacekeeping missions was also vital.  He urged the Secretary-General to continue to take active measures to enhance representation of underrepresented and unrepresented Member States in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and field missions.

    GEIR ASBJORNSEN (Norway) said that, while he would address a number of issues, the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation threatened to undermine the credibility of United Nations personnel.  He strongly supported the Secretary-General’s efforts to address the issue.  While he welcomed the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services, he also wanted to see a comprehensive report setting out recommendations on the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping personnel.  In the follow-up process, the focus should be on identification and effective prosecution of cases of abuse, compensation and support to victims and preventive action.  Gender training was one important means of sensitizing personnel to the human rights of women and girls.  Attention also needed to be focused on the role of the leadership and the responsibility of troop-contributing countries to penalize such behaviour.  Increased recruitment of women in United Nations operations would also help prevent future abuse.

    A capable and effective Secretariat was vital to ensuring the efficient execution of increasingly complex mandates in the field, he said.  In that regard, he believed it was necessary to strengthen the military and civilian police divisions with the Department to handle the growing number of such personnel on the ground.  When planning for new missions, the United Nations needed to look closer at new models and concepts.  In the Sudan, countries supporting the peace process were operating three monitoring missions.  The success of the Joint Monitoring Mission, which was monitoring an area the size of Austria with a very limited number of observers, was, to a large extent, due to the strong involvement of the parties.  Changing the command and control concept at the operational level could enhance the efficiency of United Nations-led operations.  The structure of the chain of command was critical to the success of a military mission, as it established legitimacy and accountability at all levels.  Force commanders should be given greater authority to operate within given parameters.  The objective would be to establish unity of command, which was an indispensable principle of any military operation.

    While he supported the integrated mission approach as it was a way of creating greater coherence in United Nations activities, integration had to be practiced wisely in order to make full use of the skills of the various parts of the United Nations system.  It was vital to safeguard an independent humanitarian space within United Nations field operations.  Noting that the protection of United Nations personnel in the field was also important, he stressed the need for enhanced intelligence capacity at the operational level.  Rapid deployment remained a challenge for the Organization.  Cooperation with regional and subregional organizations was also vital.  He fully agreed that peacekeeping operations might more accurately be called peace operations, as present-day operations were just as much about building peace as about keeping peace.

    REGINALDO DOS SANTOS (Brazil) said that the surge in demand for peacekeeping was testing the reforms implemented after the Brahimi report.  The challenges now included new ingredients that had transformed missions’ mandates in a very complex way.  It was crucial to achieve a solution through a mandate that incorporated aspects of security, development and political reconciliation as pillars for the efforts of the international community.  The recently established peacekeeping operations addressed unique challenges.  In multidimensional operations, an imbalance emerged among the military, humanitarian, political, development and human rights components.

    He said his country was doing its part to contribute to peacekeeping.  It had increased its troop contribution last year, becoming the number 14 troop-contributing country, with 1,367 troops, and it had major contingents in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).  In addition, Brazil completed the deployment of its contingent in Haiti in less than 60 days after adoption of Security Council resolution 1542 (2004).  Through bilateral cooperation agreements, his country was also committed to helping Haiti in such areas as agriculture and hunger eradication.  It was also in the process of updating its national legislation to allow for the greater participation of its military in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and in peacekeeping operations.

    Rapid deployment capacity remained the principal aim of peacekeeping, followed by the capacity of coordination among the United Nations system, he said.  In that context, arrangements between regional and subregional organizations and the United Nations were an important instrument in optimizing peace operations, but prudence must prevail, along with strict adherence to international law, rules of discipline, respect for human rights and other “mandatory patterns” of the United Nations.  He sought more information about the Secretary-General’s proposals for strategic reserves and a standing civilian police capacity.  He had some questions about the strategic reserves proposal concerning reimbursement and issuance of mandates, among others.  With respect to a standing civilian police capacity, he wished to know how that would be swifter and more efficient than the actual “on-call roster” adopted after the Brahimi report.

    LOUAY FALLOUH (Syria) said that peacekeeping operations had allowed the United Nations to achieve many successes and overcome many challenges.  Through its peacekeeping success, the Organization had been able to reaffirm its standing as the pre-eminent Organization ensuring international peace and security.  Such missions also served to ensure that the foundations were in place to promote and sustain peace-building efforts between parties on the ground.  Still, peacekeeping operations, with their short lifespans, should not be seen as an alternative to finding a durable settlement to conflicts. That would require the wider international community to start addressing ways to overcome the root causes of conflicts seriously and objectively, while cooperating actively with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

    Turning to the Middle East region, he said that the United Nations had been operating peacekeeping missions there for many years, including the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).  Unfortunately, while such missions generally had a limited lifespan, some of those in the Middle East had been operating for decades, because Israel continued to defy international obligations and decisions.  Syria attached importance to the Committee and looked forward to participating in anything that would enhance its work.

    Syria would also reaffirm the importance of peacekeeping operations abiding by their mandates, including respect for the Charter, the principle of consent of the parties, and respect for State sovereignty and non-use of force.  Syria also supported all efforts to enhance the security of all United Nations field offices, property and, especially, personnel.  As for the Committee’s work for the current session, he noted that the report of the Secretary-general contained a number of undefined concepts, such as “peace operations”, that needed further serious consideration and study.

    MWELWA C. MUSAMBACHIME (Zambia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, endorsed the measures put in place by the Secretary-General to address sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeeping personnel. Zambia’s laws did not condone such behaviour and it would, therefore, join other Member States in abiding by those measures to ensure that such misconduct was rooted out of peacekeeping operations and that those found guilty were brought to justice.

    Noting that Africa had made considerable strides in maintaining peace and security on the continent, he said the African Union and subregional organizations had played an increasingly important role in that regard, as reflected in the Secretary-General’s report.  The establishment early last year of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council had injected a new lease of life into peace initiatives.  Ongoing innovations by the regional body to establish an African standby force needed support, as did bilateral efforts to assist individual African States to build peacekeeping capacities.

    Emphasizing the need for the international community to increase its contribution to the African Union’s Special Peace Fund to enhance African peacekeeping capacity, he said that, in order to realize its peacekeeping goals, the regional body needed assistance in the areas of recruitment, staff training and peace-building support. African resources for peacekeeping operations were overstretched and it would, therefore, not be fair to shift the total burden of peacekeeping to African organizations.  Although the bulk of personnel for such operations in Africa should be Africans, Member States from other regions, including the developed countries, should make their personnel available to fill in the gaps and to reflect a truly international commitment to peace and security.

    ARMIN ANDEREYA (Chile) said that, over the past 10 years, peacekeeping operations had not only increased in size, but in number and complexity.  That new reality called for the United Nations and the international community to provide increased human, material and financial resources in order to ensure the success of such operations. As it stood, troop-contributing countries were making considerable efforts to finance the deployment of forces, while awaiting reimbursement from the United Nations.

    While Chile was aware that it was not easy to satisfy the demand for peacekeeping troops and at the same time implement reforms, it could not overlook that some current procedures actually impeded the rapid deployment of some operations, he said. The absence of a “one-stop shop” where the various stages of the process could be carried out meant that valuable time was lost while decisions were being made “desk by desk”.  The issue of reimbursement and the methodology for its calculation was another concern, he said.  Experience had shown that the current procedures were obstacles to the speedy dispatch of troops and equipment.  That forced troop contributors to choose between using methods that had not been approved by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, or waiting until prescribed formalities had been completed.

    Chile believed that special consideration should be given to reimburse States that had incurred expenditures undertaking the urgent transport of troops or equipment, when the means of transportation provided by the United Nations could not meet the deadlines that had been set for rapid deployment. Chile also believed that, before the deployment of a contingent began, the appropriate status of forces agreement and appropriate guidelines for troop contributors should be in place.  It was also essential for Blue Helmets to have absolutely clear rules governing the degree of force and the circumstances under which it should be used.

    “In our view, any peacekeeping operation deployed in areas of risk for the civilian population not only has a moral duty, but a legal obligation to effectively protect that population,” he said.  To that end, the force on the ground should be given a robust mandate to defend, by force if necessary, civilians in case of attack.  On the crimes allegedly committed by some members of peacekeeping missions against local civilian populations, he called upon the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to make strenuous efforts to prevent any type of abuse.  Chile also appealed to the international community to revive the true humanitarian ideal underlying peacekeeping operations.  “Our contributions, whether financial, human or material, must be inspired by the generous premise of coming to the assistance of the weakest”, he said, and not by single-minded considerations that risk transforming peacekeeping operations into a calculated undertaking exchanging security for profit.”

    SAKDA SANGSNIT (Thailand) said the significant increase in the demand for United Nations peacekeeping and the personnel involved in such missions illustrated the considerable challenges.  The need for human resources was a recurring theme.  As peace-building became an increasingly dominant aspect of the operations, there was a growing need for a qualified, standing civilian police capacity, which should be able to help build sustainable police structures and link police activity with rule of law strategies.  Such an expanded capacity would also help to transfer technical expertise in the range of skills needed to preserve law and order.  All of that required highly qualified police officers and civilian experts in such areas as police policy and planning, law and procedures, administration, budgets, logistics, and intelligence and investigations.

    He said his country also supported efforts to enhance the reliability of the United Nations’ reserve capacity.  The proposed strategic reserve was essential for an effective response to crises. The reserve should focus not only on stabilization, but also on such other aspects as providing an interim capability pending deployment of other forces, or “surge manning” for a specific event, such as elections.  Several questions concerning the reserve concept needed to be further discussed and developed, especially with respect to financial implications, logistical support and strategic lift.  Peacekeeping missions should also be planned in a way that facilitated post-conflict peace-building and long-term prevention of recurrent of armed conflict, with clear and well-defined mandates and exit strategies.

    Peacekeeping operations’ success also depended on clearly defined, comprehensive strategies, which included disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, rule of law, mine action, quick-impact projects, human rights, political dialogue and national reconciliation, he said.  Peace and stability could not be achieved without public acceptance.  It was imperative, therefore, for all peacekeeping, from the first day of their deployment in the field, to understand and fulfil their roles of building a secure environment, while simultaneously starting the peace-building process.  They must use their military capabilities to assist the people in such areas as providing basic relief, building basic infrastructure and community capacity, and coordinating the humanitarian relief from the government and non-governmental organizations, with a view to ensuring a smooth transition to the post-conflict phase.

    He stressed that the safety and security of United Nations peacekeepers who placed their lives on the line in the service of the Organization was of the utmost concern.  Having sufficient troop strength would increase their deterrent capacity and protect the United Nations and associated personnel in the field, as well as enhance the effectiveness and credibility of the mission itself.  In addition, a well-managed intelligence could have a dramatic effect on the success of any peacekeeping mission.  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations should develop a comprehensive intelligence management plan, which covered, among other aspects, collection efforts, analysis of information, and dissemination and sharing of procedures between joint missions analysis cells, contingents, field headquarters and Headquarters in New York.  He reaffirmed Thailand’s strong commitment to United Nations peacekeeping operations.

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