Press Briefing by Chairman, UN Panel on Peace Operations
The Secretary-General has appointed Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette to follow up recommendations by the United Nations Panel on Peace Operations for the improved conduct of the Organization's peace and security activities, Panel Chairman Lakhdar Brahimi told correspondents at a Headquarters press briefing this morning.
He said Ms. Fréchette was ideally qualified and positioned to lead that follow-up and to oversee the preparation of a detailed plan for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Panel's report, which had already been officially handed to the Secretary-General. Following his expected submission of the implementation plan to the General Assembly and the Security Council, the upcoming Millennium Summit and special Council session would most probably address the Panel's recommendations, he added.
The report's main recommendations include extensive restructuring of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations; a new information and strategic analysis unit to service all United Nations departments concerned with peace and security; an integrated Headquarters task force to plan and support each peacekeeping mission from inception; and more systematic use of information technology.
Mr. Brahimi noted that while the Panel members were highly conscious of the indispensable role the United Nations must continue to play in maintaining and reinforcing peace among and within nations, it could not play that role to the full. Considering the limitations under which it operated, the Organization was doing a good job, but could do better given the necessary will. The Panel's recommendations could be an important step in the right direction.
Some of the Panel's recommendations came with a price tag, he went on. Permanent representatives as well as outside observers had told the Panel over the last few months that what was wrong with the Organization's way of doing business in the field of peace and security could not be corrected without significant additional resources.
He said the Panel's report had received useful input from all field missions, Member States, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and Security Council members. Its recommendations largely echoed what Member States, the Secretary-General and senior United Nations officials had identified as necessary and urgent to reform the system.
The Secretary-General convened the 10-member Panel on 7 March, after publishing two reports which highlighted the failure of the United Nations to prevent the 1994 Rwanda genocide and to protect the inhabitants of Srebrenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in 1995. Besides Mr. Brahimi, Under-Secretary-General for Special Assignments in Support of the Secretary-General's Preventive and Peace-making Efforts, its members include Colin Granderson (Trinidad and Tobago), former head of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH); and Dame Ann Hercus (New Zealand), former Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Cyprus.
Brahimi Briefing - 2 - 23 August 2000
Its other members are General Klaus Naumann (Germany), former Chairman of the Military Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); General Philip Sibanda (Zimbabwe), former Force Commander of the United Nations Angola Verification Mission III (UNAVEM III); Richard Monk (United Kingdom), former Police Commissioner of the International Police Task Force; Brian Atwood (United States), former head of the United States Agency for International Development; Hisako Shimura (Japan), a former official of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; Vladimir Shustov (Russian Federation), Ambassador at large and former Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations; and Cornelio Sommaruga (Switzerland), former President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Asked how Member States had reacted to the report, Mr. Brahimi replied that there had been some positive reactions. Regarding Ms. Fréchette's role, he said the Secretary-General expected her, together with the United Nations administration and Member States, to seek ways of translating its recommendations into practical terms. She must distinguish between aspects falling into the Secretary-General's purview, which he could implement on his own, and aspects requiring Security Council or General Assembly action, particularly recommendations with financial implications.
Another correspondent asked if it was realistic to expect Member States to accept the Panel's proposed strengthening of the United Nations standby arrangements system, given their reluctance to work within the existing system. What would a refusal to accept that recommendation mean for the future of United Nations peacekeeping?
Mr. Brahimi said Member States had given the strong impression that they understood the Organization's unique role, and realized that it should be helped to do better. While the idea of a United Nations army might not be a bad one, Member States did not want that. The standby arrangements system was the next best thing.
He said the Panel had suggested ways to improve the system, prepare themselves better together and contribute to United Nations peace missions under the existing rules. The effort by the Scandinavian countries, Canada, the Netherlands, Italy and others to form a Standing High-Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG) was an interesting development, although those countries did not readily participate in many peacekeeping operations.
Other promising developments, he continued, included the European Union's decision to form a 5,000-strong police contingent for peace missions, and the announced willingness of the United States to improve its contribution to the Civilian Police Unit. Work on the rest of the Panel's recommendations would result in a completely different system from the existing one and more countries would be prepared to participate in peace missions.
Another journalist asked whether Mr. Brahimi could foresee any country opposing attempts to enhance the professionalism of United Nations peacekeeping and to change the focus by distinguishing victims from aggressors.
Mr. Brahimi said he did not think there would be much opposition. Everybody wanted to prevent a repeat of bitter recent experiences such as Rwanda or Srebrenica. The United Nations must hope for best-case scenarios while planning for worst-case scenarios.
Regarding a proposal for the appointment of a Principal Assistant Secretary- General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Brahimi told another journalist that the Panel was suggesting a large increase in resources for the Department. That would entail additional personnel, including a third Assistant Secretary-General. [The Department currently has two Assistant Secretary-General posts, one of which is vacant. The Panel recommends the creation of a third post to be occupied by a Principal Assistant Secretary-General.]
Was $100 million, in addition to the annual general budget, a reasonable estimate of resources needed to implement the Panel's recommendations with respect to Headquarters? another correspondent asked.
The figure was probably less, Mr. Brahimi replied. Some Member States spent up to $800 billion on their armed forces and could afford to spare some "change" for the United Nations, even if it was $100 million. The Panel had been shocked that a mere 32 officers at Headquarters were providing leadership for 28,000 soldiers, and nine police officers for every 7,000 Civilian Police, all from different countries and backgrounds and scattered around the world. It was scandalous and unacceptable that the United Nations organization could not afford the necessary personnel to shoulder peace and security tasks -- its main activity.
How realistic was it to recommend that the Security Council give robust mandates to different peacekeeping missions, in view of developments in Sierra Leone? another journalist asked.
Mr. Brahimi replied that if the Council gave the Organization a job to do, it should give it the right tools to that job. Mandates should be realistic, with the corresponding resources to achieve them.