Fourth Committee hears 17 speakers in debate on peacekeeping operations; Security Council reform, "Brahimi Report" recommendations addressed
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this morning continued its comprehensive review of peacekeeping in all its aspects, with 17 speakers addressing a wide range of issues, including the impact of Security Council reform on peacekeeping, the recommendations contained in the Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations - the Brahimi report - the need for a strengthened Department for Peacekeeping Operations and peacekeeping operations in Africa.
The representative of India told the Committee that the problems besetting United Nations peacekeeping could not be corrected by an emergency infusion of extra personnel in the Secretariat, which was the implication of a relevant recommendation of the Brahimi report. That was a dangerous simplification of a complex problem. The systemic problem at the heart of the crisis in peacekeeping, could only be resolved when the Security Council had been reformed. Council inaction was reflected in the Rwanda genocide, the decision to leave Somalia to the warlords and the inability for many months to seriously consider establishing an operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The representative of Australia said that when formulating a mandate, the Security Council must be told what it needed to know, not what it wished to hear. The Council must be flexible, so that if the environment changed in such a way that an original mandate was no longer appropriate, it would be ready to consider changes and make them in a timely manner. In addition, if the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was realistically expected to provide the necessary quality advice and support, it must have the required resources. The Security Council could not get the informed, critical advice it needed to make good decisions about mandates if the Secretariat did not have the strategic and analytical capacity to provide it.
The Russian Federation's representative said peacekeeping must be in keeping with the principle of political guidance by the Security Council. When that principle was forgotten or declared irrelevant, political problems arose, because the Council had the sole responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. A close link must be established between peacekeeping operations and the political settlement of conflicts based on preventive diplomacy and peace- building. His country, however, did not accept the concept of humanitarian intervention, which was an attempt to solve problems by force in violation of the United Nations Charter.
Nigeria's representative stressed the valuable contributions that regional organizations like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) could make to United Nations peacekeeping efforts in formulating and implementing strategies. The ECOWAS operations in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau had proven essential for peace efforts in the West African subregion. A high degree of cooperation with the United Nations had been demonstrated by the smooth transition from troops of Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group (ECOMOG) to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).
Kenya's representative expressed regret that the initiative by the Secretariat and the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to establish a regular forum of African and non-African States to strengthen cooperation in capacity- building had taken so long to materialize. However, Kenya welcomed the additional focus given to efforts to enhancing African peacekeeping capacity by the 29 September 1999 Security Council's ministerial meeting on cooperation with Africa.
Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Slovakia, United States, United Republic of Tanzania, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Liechtenstein, Botswana, Brazil, Uruguay, El Salvador, Chile, and Republic of Korea. A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also spoke.
The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today to conclude its exchange of views on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all its aspects.
Committee Work Programme
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue its general debate on the comprehensive review on the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.
(For further information, please see press release GA/SPD/198 of 8 November 2000.)
PETER TOMKA (Slovakia) said that his country shared the views expressed by France, on behalf of the European Union. He added that the Security Council, with the strong support of the Secretariat, should establish clear mandates for peacekeeping missions, through a close and interactive cooperation with troop- contributing countries.
He said that the United Nations should act whenever an action is possible, so as not to fail those who depended upon the Organization. However, troops must be adequately trained and equipped. Slovakia, as an active participant in United Nations peacekeeping since its admission seven years ago, had experience in demining and its own training centre specializing in engineering skills. It was ready to cooperate with Member States in sharing skills, techniques and equipment, as well the use of that training centre.
He stressed that delays in reimbursements to participants in peacekeeping mission negatively affected the ability and willingness of Member States to commit new troops to United Nations operations. Budget concerns should not stop peacekeeping efforts. He hoped that mechanisms that ensured stable, equitable, and transparent financing would be found at the earliest stage.
ROD SMITH (Australia), citing Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's statement to the General Assembly general debate, stressed that military intervention must only be used as a last resort. In some senses, the need for a peacekeeping operation was itself an admission of the failure of diplomacy, and it was crucial to give diplomacy every chance to succeed. Australia had long advocated more effective and practical approaches to preventive action and peace- building by the United Nations, using the authority of both the Secretary-General and the Security Council.
Where the United Nations was deployed, there must be a peace to keep, he said. There were real dangers in sending troops indefinitely into harm's way without a clear peace plan and reasonable prospects of achieving it. Disputing parties must be committed to peace and must be held accountable for actions which threatened the peace or undermined a peace process. In a hostile environment, peacekeeping operations must be appropriately equipped and able to project credible force.
He said that was linked to the important recommendation of the Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations -- the Brahimi report -- that the Security Council, when formulating a mandate, be told what it needed to know, not what it wished to hear. It also meant there must be some flexibility, so that if the environment changed in such a way that an original mandate was no longer appropriate, the Council must be ready to consider changes and to do so in a timely manner.
Deployment must take place quickly once the Security Council took a decision, as delays could lead to the further deterioration of a situation and cost lives, he emphasized. In addition, peacekeeping operations must have a clear exit strategy linked to the clarity of Security Council mandates. That was also linked to the efficacy of accompanying peace processes and peace-building efforts, to which the United Nations and Member States must make a sustained and substantial commitment.
Australia had long stressed the need to maintain the strategic and planning capacity of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at a level that could support at least three peacekeeping operations simultaneously, he said. The fact that there were 58,000 peacekeeping personnel in the field against 400 staff members at Headquarters underlined the importance not only of getting the core resources right, but of having in place efficient systems and mechanisms for responding to the kind of surge currently being experienced in peacekeeping demand.
If the Department was realistically expected to provide the necessary quality of advice and support, it must have the required resources, he stressed. The Security Council could not get the informed, critical advice it needed to make good decisions about mandates if the Secretariat did not have the strategic and analytical capacity to provide it. Planning of peacekeeping operations would be less effective if the military expertise and coordination mechanisms were not in place. Troop-contributing countries would not get the support they must have if the Department lacked the resources to properly assess risk.
JAMES CUNNINGHAM (United States) said the ability to move forward would be seen as the test of commitment to United Nations peacekeeping and to the people whose need for it was real. Unless peacekeeping moved forward, those who threatened peace around the globe might draw the conclusion that the United Nations lacked the will and cohesion to perform that basic function. Member States owed it to peacekeepers in the field to match their commitment at Headquarters, by devising the most effective and supportive peacekeeping system possible.
The pursuit of an ideal solution should not prevent meaningful action and it could put lives, as well as United Nations credibility, at risk, he said. United Nations peacekeeping was by definition a collective responsibility. In striving to meet their responsibilities, Member States should bear in mind that peacekeeping at its core was about preventing and healing the devastating impact of prolonged conflict on human lives and providing shattered societies with an opportunity for reconciliation and peaceful development.
He said that for people in strife-torn areas, peacekeeping was often the difference between life and death. Peacekeeping had also been essential for development, as in Mozambique, where effective peacekeeping had contributed to the stability that had produced the highest economic growth rate in Africa. The United States was encouraged by the fact that so many delegates had taken the opportunity to develop creative and useful ideas for the process and looked forward to working for more efficient United Nations peacekeeping.
J. K. SHINKAIYE (Nigeria) said that as a troop contributing country Nigeria was concerned about the safety of United Nations peacekeepers. As an African country, it was concerned about the many problems facing peacekeeping operations in the continent, as well as outside it. He welcomed the recommendations of the Brahimi report, particularly those that aimed to protect the integrity of peacekeeping forces, assure rapid deployment, and call for necessary facilities and resources.
He said that peace operations could only be successful through a holistic strategy that included conflict prevention and post-conflict peace building. He endorsed the strengthening of early warning and Disarmament, Demobilization, and Rehabilitation Programmes to enhance development, reduce poverty levels, and contribute to stability. Peacekeeping mandates must be clear and achievable, with rules of engagement that allowed peacekeepers to defend themselves and the peace. For rapid deployment, he encouraged efforts to link contingent-owned equipment to United Nations standby arrangements, maintenance of start-up kits, and third-party loans of equipment. He urged the Secretariat to expedite action to accelerate reimbursement of countries that contributed personnel and equipment.
He stressed the valuable contribution that regional organizations, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), made to United Nations peacekeeping efforts, in both formulating and implementing strategies. Operations undertaken by ECOWAS in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau had proven essential for peace efforts in the subregion. The high degree of cooperation with the United Nations was shown by the smooth transition of Economic Community of West African States' Monitoring Observer Group troops to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). Such regional initiatives should receive support commensurate with their value.
KAMALESH SHARMA (India), associating himself with the statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the proposed strengthening of the Secretariat on an emergency basis implied that the crisis in peacekeeping lay there and that additional staff was the cure. That was a dangerous simplification of a complex problem. The systemic problems that beset peacekeeping lay elsewhere and could not be corrected by an emergency infusion of extra personnel.
He said the Security Council's inaction was reflected in the Rwanda genocide, the decision to leave Somalia to the warlords and the inability for many months to seriously consider establishing an operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Those were failures of political will and in each case, the Council had acted by choice. That systemic problem, which was at the heart of the crisis in peacekeeping, could only be resolved when the Council had itself been reformed.
Although the third world dominated the Security Council's agenda, developing countries had little say in its decisions, he said. Whether a peacekeeping operation would be set, and in which form, depended overwhelmingly on the wishes of the Council's permanent members, where the developing world was not represented. He noted the limited number of countries with professional armies that were prepared to contribute troops to peacekeeping operations, and said few developed countries wanted to risk their troops. Further, the Secretariat believed it was politically important to take forces from countries in the crisis region. Finally, the training of troops was a continuing and costly exercise for which the United Nations did not have the money. Even if it were made available, developing countries would ask if the money might not be put to better use in development. If those problems were not solved, crises would recur.
M.W. MANGACHI (United Republic of Tanzania) aligned himself with the statement made by Jordan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. He noted the change in peacekeeping challenges, to intra-State conflicts, which combined traditional activities with those that were humanitarian or political in nature. Welcoming the Brahimi report, he said that a substantially larger, modernized, hi- tech Department of Peacekeeping Operations should be given high priority, as should rapid deployment capability, training, and clear, well-funded mandates.
The Security Council, he said, should always act with urgency to facilitate an effective and timely response to crisis situations. At present there was a lack of political will to deploy a peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He hoped the Council would revisit the matter on an urgent basis. He said that the need for peacekeeping cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations could not be overemphasized. He particularly welcomed the partnership between the United Nations with the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which should be enhanced by capacity-building to be even more useful. He welcomed existing capacity-building initiatives, but urged their coordination, with the OAU's Mechanism for Conflict Prevention a central player in that endeavor.
GENNADI GATILOV (Russian Federation) said United Nations peacekeeping must be adapted to changing circumstances, in keeping with the principle of political guidance from the Security Council. When that principle was forgotten or declared irrelevant, political problems arose because the Council had the sole responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It was the only body with the moral authority to use force in the common interest.
There was a need to ensure a close link between peacekeeping operations and political settlements to conflicts, he said. Those should be based on preventive diplomacy and peace-building. The Russian Federation did not accept the concept of humanitarian intervention, which was an attempt to solve problems by force in violation of the United Nations Charter. Such problems should be solved through multifunctional operations, which would include a humanitarian function.
Reiterating his country's support for most of the recommendations of the Brahimi Panel, he noted that Member States should not adopt the logic that the effectiveness of reform could be judged by the sheer number of reforms. The Russian Federation had doubts about the Panel's recommendations on the procedures for logistical and technical support, and on procurement.
He agreed with the Panel's recommendation on the need to increase military expertise by using the experience of the Military Staff Committee. The United Nations Charter called on that body to help the Council establish peacekeeping operations and to advise and help the Council on the military aspects of its decisions. That would help maintain a balance in the duties and responsibilities of Member States in decision-making.
PHAVANH NUANTHASING (Lao People's Democratic Republic) said her country associated itself with the statement made by Jordan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. Her country was neither a troop or equipment provider, but it attached great importance to the maintenance of international peace and security. At the same time, it valued strict observance of Charter principles, such as respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and non-interference in the internal affairs of other States.
She expressed grave concern over the financial crisis confronting the United Nations in the area of peacekeeping. She hoped that troop-contributing countries would be fully and promptly reimbursed. She also hoped that the lessons learned from failures would be applied to strengthen the United Nations ability to respond rapidly and effectively to future crisis situations.
CLAUDIA FRITSCHE (Liechtenstein), expressing appreciation for the position that resources for peacekeeping should not be increased at the expense of development, cautioned against distinguishing too narrowly between activities that were closely interlinked. Funds for developmental activities could help prevent the outbreak of violence and armed conflict. Resources invested in peacekeeping, particularly to post-conflict peace-building, could contribute to the quick recovery and development of a country that had been plagued by armed conflict. Development and peacekeeping were thus complementary, rather than competing, concepts.
While the concept of conflict prevention may seem novel to many, she said, it did not constitute an attempt to undermine sovereignty, but rather a recognition of shared responsibility for alleviating the consequences of conflicts and preventing their very occurrence. The concept of prevention was simply the expression of a willingness to tackle issues in a proactive manner, in order to minimize disastrous social and economic consequences with minimal resources and at minimal cost.
While welcoming the Brahimi report, she noted the continued dramatic under- representation of women in peacekeeping operations and in preventive diplomacy, in particular as special envoys and special representatives of the Secretary-General. That under-representation constituted a major deficiency, which should be addressed in a process of comprehensive peacekeeping reform.
The term "gender balance" had become too routine, she said, pointing out that women and children constituted a large majority of victims during armed conflict. Women had particular abilities allowing them to relate to and address the plight of such victims. She welcomed the Under-Secretary-General's remarks in that respect and supported his appeal to Member States to put forward women candidates for participation in all components of peacekeeping operations, including high-level posts.
LEUTLWETSE MMUALEFE (Botswana) said his country associated itself with the statement of Jordan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. He welcomed the reports before the Committee, stressing the importance of capacity-building, transparency, and increase in financial support and political will. He noted the complexity of today's peacekeeping challenges.
He was pleased to note, from the Secretary-General's report, that there had been efforts to implement some of the recommendations, through proposals to restructure the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and to coordinate with specialized agencies, such as the Bretton Woods institutions. He commended the peacekeeping work undertaken by the United Nations in Africa, which for a long time seemed to have taken a back seat. Finally, he stressed the need to place more emphasis on preventive diplomacy and peace-building in the review of peacekeeping operations.
GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) said that the first fundamental element required to strengthen United Nations peace operations was ensuring a clear and strong political will on the part of the Security Council. That was the key to responding consistently to conflict situations. Ideally, those responses would gain even more legitimacy with the completion of Security Council reform.
He said that the absence of an ideal Security Council - the veto continued to be an institution of doubtful legitimacy in times when democracy was being celebrated - should not paralyze peacekeeping activities. Peace operations were going on in the field and the Brahimi report was a useful tool that provided a clear road map for improving United Nations capacity, performance and effectiveness.
While recognizing the increasing complexity of peace operations, such as Kosovo and East Timor, it was not necessary to dwell on that subject, he said. A necessary consequence however, was that the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the humanitarian agencies, development programmes and the Bretton Woods institutions must also participate actively in a coordinated strategy for peace operations. But, without a strong institutional core, coordination would inevitably be weak. The United Nations was the only place for that institutional core.
He stressed the need for real political commitment on the part of the membership, particularly the permanent members of the Security Council, who should be the first to ensure troops and financial resources for peacekeeping missions. Effective deployment of peace operations could not be isolated from its political context. The Brahimi report seemed contaminated by a double sense of frustration, just from the inability of the United Nations to deliver in the areas of development and poverty eradication, and also from the need to ensure greater legitimacy of Security Council decisions.
FELIPE PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said his country associated itself with the statement to be made by Colombia on behalf of the Rio Group. Failures of peacekeeping in the past should not discourage future attempts, he said, since peace operations were still in the experimental phase. None of them were identical, but lessons learned could create more effective mechanisms. In order to achieve that effectiveness, he approved most of the recommendations contained in the reports before the Committee.
He stressed the need for troop-contributing countries to be consulted on all aspects of the operations in which they were involved, through institutionalized mechanisms, at all stages of an operation. Also, rapid deployment was a great challenge that needed to be faced. In that regard, he would look beyond the recommendations of the report for ways to intensify cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, particularly the OAU and the Organization of American States (OAS), organizations that had authority and expertise in their regions. Uruguay also shared concerns over security of United Nations personnel, which was not addressed in the Brahimi report.
He noted the financial implications of the various recommendations, and said that they would be impossible to implement unless countries paid their assessments on time. The current funding mechanisms for peacekeeping should be changed. Resources needed for peacekeeping should not be reduced by being channeled to other activities within the organization.
FARES KUINDWA (Kenya), associating himself with the statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country's commitment to United Nations peacekeeping operations and the promotion of international peace and security was reflected in its contribution of formed military units, military observers, civilian police and non-uniformed personnel to United Nations missions all over the world. Kenya was honoured by the appointment of a Kenyan as Force Commander of UNAMSIL.
However, Kenya remained deeply concerned at the international community's reluctance to respond to crises in Africa at the same speed with which it reacted to situations elsewhere, he said. As a result, Africa had lost millions of innocent lives in circumstances that could have been avoided, if only the international community had responded in a timely manner and with the necessary resources. The Security Council must ensure that it established clear criteria for authorizing peacekeeping missions with an equal and uniform level of intensity and commitment whenever situations arose, regardless of geographical location.
He expressed support for the call by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations for institutionalized consultations between troop-contributing countries and the Security Council. Countries that had committed formed military units to United Nations peacekeeping operations should have access to Secretariat briefings to Council members on matters affecting the safety and security of their personnel. Kenya also called for consultations between troop-contributing countries and the Secretariat during formulation of new concepts of operations, as well as changes in ongoing ones.
Regarding cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU, he welcomed the additional focus given to efforts to enhance African peacekeeping capacity by the 29 September 1999 Security Council ministerial meeting on cooperation with Africa. He also welcomed the efforts between the Secretariat and the OAU to establish a regular forum of African and non-African States for strengthening cooperation in capacity-building. It was regrettable however, that the initiative had taken so long to materialize.
JOSE ROBERTO ANDINO SALAZAR (El Salvador) associated his country with the statement to be made by Columbia on behalf of the Rio Group. Peacekeeping operations, he said, were an important component of the United Nations. Recent failures, however, had made the current re-examination necessary. Support was needed to bring about changes, in particular financial support.
In that regard, he said, El Salvador was concerned that funding might be shifted from other activities or greater assessments might be used for peacekeeping. It was imperative, however, that peace-building and development activities take precedent in creating a world without conflict. Furthermore, peacekeeping operations should be undertaken only within the principles of the Charter, including non-interference and the non-use of aggressive force. They must be given legitimate political support, and financial support that guaranteed resources to achieve the goals of the mandate.
He said, in addition, that the United Nations had an obligation to meet challenges in all parts of the world on an equal basis and, alongside peacekeeping, to develop policies that dealt with the root causes of conflict. El Salvador had much experience with that issue, having benefited from the multidimensional efforts of the United Nations in its own post-conflict situation.
CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile), associated himself with the statement made yesterday by the representative of Jordan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, and with the statement to be made this afternoon by Colombia's representative on behalf of the Rio Group.
He questioned the need for the United Nations to appoint a panel of outsiders to produce recommendations that had already been made by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. There was a natural inertia in the United Nations system that prevented effective action to implement resolutions approved by its various bodies. Regarding transitional missions and the means to judge the appropriateness of criminal proceedings, as in Kosovo and East Timor, he said those two were extreme examples from which the United Nations could learn lessons for future missions.
Concerning the Brahimi Panel's proposed Executive Committee on Peace and Security Information and Strategic Analysis Secretariat, he called for a more detailed explanation of its functions and structure as well as its relationship with other units. Some of the Brahimi Panel's recommendations had met with generalized support and they had already been discussed by the Special Committee. It should be possible, therefore, for the Secretary-General to implement them as soon as possible. Likewise, he should be able to report on their implementation by early 2001 and report on those that required more work or which remained doubtful.
KWON TAE-MYON (Republic of Korea) sup