Press Releases

    GA/PK/189
    21 March 2006

    Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations Concludes Current Session, Adopts Report Calling for Enhanced Security of Personnel in Field

    Other Issues Addressed Include Conduct, Discipline, Strengthening Capacity, Rapid Deployment, UN Police Capacities, Sexual Misconduct, Procurement

    (Issued on 20 March 2006.)

    NEW YORK, 17 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations concluded its 2006 two-week session Friday evening, adopting its annual report which noted that it was often under the most difficult circumstances and enormous time pressure that the United Nations was called upon to set up a peacekeeping operation.  The Committee expressed its appreciation for the outstanding achievements of the Organization in that regard, and paid tribute to those men and women who had given their lives for the maintenance of peace and security.

    The report addresses such issues as safety and security of peacekeepers, conduct and discipline, strengthening operational capacity, rapid deployment, United Nations police capacities, doctrine and terminology, complex peacekeeping operations, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, rule of law, gender and peacekeeping, cooperation with troop-contributing countries, the Peacebuilding Commission, enhancement of African peacekeeping capabilities, civilians in peacekeeping operations, sexual misconduct in peacekeeping operations, and mismanagement in procurement.

    Noting the sustained surge for peacekeeping operations -- as well as the increasingly complex nature of missions -- in various parts of the world, the Special Committee considers it essential for the United Nations to be able to effectively maintain international peace and security, which requires, among other things, an improved capacity to assess conflict situations, effective planning and management, and quick and effective responses to any Security Council mandate.

    Paying tribute to the courage and dedication of staff and to those who have lost their lives in the service of peace, the Special Committee states in its report that the safety and security of all United Nations and associated personnel are inextricably linked to the capability to execute effective operations.  It expresses grave concern about the precarious security environment prevailing in many field missions, condemns in the strongest terms the killing of peacekeeping personnel in several missions, and calls upon the Organization to give the utmost priority to enhancing security in the field.

    While noting with concern the Secretary-General's assessment that the Organization's peacekeeping continues to face "significant gaps", the report also notes that Member States should continue to ensure that United Nations peacekeeping is provided with political support, adequate human, financial and logistical resources and a clear, realistic and achievable mandate.

    The Special Committee endorses the creation of an initial operating capability for the Standing Police Capacity, which was meant to provide a coherent, effective and responsive start-up for the policing component of missions and to assist existing operations.  It requests the Secretariat to undertake a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Standing Police Capacity before the end of the year.  To reinforce United Nations operations in crises, the Special Committee also requests the Secretariat to continue to explore different options for enhanced rapid deployment capacities, for consideration during its next session.  With the provision of timely civilian capabilities also critical for mission success, the report also requests a progress report on the required needs in that area, including the best modalities for timely deployment.

    Expressing deep concern about recent allegations of fraud and mismanagement in peacekeeping procurement, the Special Committee believes that any incident of fraud or mismanagement should be subject to a thorough and transparent investigation and due process, and those found responsible should be held accountable.  In addition, it recommends comprehensive measures to prevent such incidents and to further streamline procedures to maintain efficiency.

    The Special Committee devoted much attention to the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations peacekeeping personnel, which was the focus of its special reconvened session last April.  Reaffirming the need to ensure that all peacekeeping personnel function in a manner that preserves the image, credibility, impartiality and integrity of the Organization, it remains concerned over a large number of allegations of sexual misconduct, although it commended the Secretary-General's efforts to address the problem.  Among other things, the Committee's comments relate to the responsibility of managers and commanders for the prevention of misconduct and maintenance of discipline, the efforts of the Office of Internal Oversight Services to develop a National Investigations Officer concept, and the efforts of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) to provide a draft revision to the 1997 model Memorandum of Understanding.

    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 is comprised of 124 Member States, mostly past or current contributors of peacekeeping operations.  Seventeen other Member States, as well as the European Union (European Commission), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), participate as observers.

    For a summary of Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno's statement to the Committee and the following general debate, see Press Releases GA/PK/187 and GA/PK/188 of 27 and 28 February.

    Summary of Report on Peacekeeping

    In its report, the Special Committee stresses, among other things, that it is essential to respect such basic principles as consent of the parties, impartiality and the non-use of force except in self-defence and in the defence of the mandate authorized by the Security Council.  In addition, peacekeeping operations are no substitute for addressing the root causes of conflict, which should be done in a comprehensive manner, using political, social and developmental instruments.

    The Special Committee reaffirms that the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security rests with the United Nations, in accordance with the Charter, and affirms that peacekeeping continues to be one of the key instruments available to the Organization in discharging that responsibility.  Further, the Special Committee continues to stress the importance of clearly defined mandates, objectives and command structures, as well as secure financing and congruity between mandates, resources and objectives.

    The Special Committee, gravely concerned about the precarious security environment prevailing in many field missions, condemns in the strongest terms the killing of UN peacekeeping personnel in several missions and calls upon the Organization to give the utmost priority to enhancing the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel in the field.  Paying tribute to the courage and dedication of personnel working in peacekeeping operations and to those who have lost their lives in the service of peace, the Committee states that the safety and security of all United Nations and associated personnel are inextricably linked to the capability to execute operationally effective peacekeeping operations.  On another aspect of the issue, the report also notes with concern that accidents and illnesses are responsible for a high level of fatalities in peacekeeping operations.

    As actors who remain outside a peace process pose serious risks, the Special Committee advocates that the best assurance against such risks is a properly planned and mandated mission, encompassing well trained, equipped and disciplined contingents, deployed in an ongoing political process.  It welcomed the establishment of the Standing Committee for Security, as well as the Peacekeeping Operations Support Section.

    Although commending the Secretary-General's efforts to address conduct and discipline issues, the Special Committee remains concerned by the large number of allegations of sexual misconduct by United Nations peacekeeping personnel.  It encourages the inter-agency Task Force on the Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse's Working Group on Managerial Accountability to make better use of the work already done by Member States on leadership accountability to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.  In this connection, the Committee stresses that prevention of any acts of misconduct and maintenance of discipline is a responsibility of managers and commanders in all levels of peacekeeping.  The leadership of managers and commanders is vital in the prevention of misconduct.

    Regarding the establishment of a comprehensive strategy for welfare and recreation, a victim assistance policy and procedures for investigation of allegations of abuse, it emphasized the importance of close consultations between Member States and the Secretariat.  Among other things, the Special Committee also expresses appreciation for the efforts of the Office of Internal Oversight Services to develop a National Investigations Officer concept and notes the Peacekeeping Department's efforts to provide a draft revision to the 1997 model Memorandum of Understanding.

    The report also notes that Member States should continue to ensure that United Nations peacekeeping is provided with political support, adequate human, financial and logistical resources and a clear, realistic and achievable mandate.  But the Committee notes with concern the Secretary-General's assessment that the Organization's peacekeeping continues to face "significant gaps", in particular in the areas of enabling and niche capabilities and strategic lift.

    While supporting the call for rapid deployment, the Special Committee urges the Secretariat to optimize all existing aspects of pre-mandate operational preparedness and deployment.  It also calls for a more efficient management of the financial and logistical aspects of peacekeeping operations, both at Headquarters and in the field, in order to make deployment rapid and effective.  It requests the Secretariat to continue to explore the different options for enhanced rapidly deployable capacities to reinforce peacekeeping operations in crisis and requests that the DPKO produce a generic reinforcement policy for field missions.

    The Special Committee welcomes the creation of an initial operating capability for the Standing Police Capacity meant to provide a coherent, effective and responsive start-up for the policing component of peacekeeping operations and to assist existing operations.  It stresses the urgent need for proposals for a United Nations Formed Police Unit policy and doctrine on the roles, responsibilities and anticipated tasks of these Units.  It requested the Secretariat to undertake a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Standing Police Capacity before the end of the year.

    As for doctrine and terminology, the Special Committee, recognizing that peacekeeping operations have become more complex and broader in scope, states that a common understanding of terminology is required in order to promote common approaches and cooperation and requests the Secretariat to provide an interim glossary of terminology to be used during the further development of a peacekeeping doctrine, guiding principles and concepts.

    The Special Committee reaffirms the need for the DPKO to conduct peacekeeping activities in such a manner as to facilitate post-conflict peacebuilding and to prevent recurrence of armed conflict and encourages the Department to develop coherent operational strategies and early integrated mission planning together with other UN actors based on lessons learned.  Welcoming the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission, the Committee also encourages the DPKO to collaborate closely with the Commission's Support Office and reinforces the need for the Department to maintain the lead in integrated mission planning.  It also expresses the view that a framework for coordination between those entities should be developed as early as possible.

    The report stresses that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) is a crucial component of peace processes and peace operations and that its success depends on the political will of all parties.  The Committee believes that early planning and coordination, along with early and sustained funding of the DDR components of peace missions, are also key elements for the success of such programmes.

    The Special Committee, therefore, calls for long-term commitment by the donor community in support of DDR programmes and requests the Secretary-General to identify the additional resources needed to support its capacity in that area.  It also stresses the importance of ensuring that all women and children associated with armed forces and groups are systematically included in every DDR process, taking into account their specific needs and rights, especially those of girls, with a particular emphasis on reintegration and education, in order to prevent them from being rerecruited.

    The Committee, noting that the 2005 World Summit provided its support for the development and implementation of a 10-year plan for capacity-building with the African Union, commends efforts to support the enhancement of African peacekeeping capacities and supports the development of a joint action plan that would address the systemic constraints identified by African Member States.  Better coordination between donors and a deeper understanding of African needs might be beneficial to future strengthening of the relations between international organizations.  It welcomed the DPKO's proposal to establish a dedicated team to elaborate and implement a comprehensive programme of support for African peacekeeping capacities, as well as the Department's efforts to further develop the guiding principles for strengthening cooperation with regional arrangements.

    The report states that the provision of timely civilian capabilities of peacekeeping operations is critical for mission success and requests a progress report on the required needs in this area, noting that securing the necessary human and financial resources will pose challenges to both the Organization and Member States.  In that regard, the Special Committee urges the Secretary-General to address the current imbalance of geographic representation and gender distribution.  Also, civilian staff in the DPKO must have predictable career prospects and requests an examination of the challenges in establishing such a career structure.

    The Special Committee is deeply concerned about the recent allegations of fraud and mismanagement in United Nations peacekeeping procurement.  The Special Committee believes that any incident of fraud or mismanagement should be subject to a thorough and transparent investigation and due process, and those found responsible should be held accountable.  In addition, the Special Committee recommends that comprehensive measures be taken to prevent such incidents and to further streamline procedures to maintain effectiveness and efficiency.

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