Bosnia and Herzegovina + 8 more

Realities on ground have moved faster than adjustments in UN approach to peacekeeping, Special Committee told

Source
Posted
Originally published


GA/PK/166
Realities on the ground had moved faster than adjustments in the United Nations approach to peacekeeping, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations was told this afternoon as it continued its general debate on all aspects of United Nations peacekeeping.

Stressing that it was necessary to “take a hint” from the delays and the policy and logistical difficulties encountered in launching the missions in Kosovo and East Timor, the representative of the Philippines said that troop contributors from developing countries should not be left out during policy discussions and early planning phases of missions. The United Nations should now seriously consider investing its efforts and resources in a pre-crisis policy mechanism -- instead of responding to crises, it should prevent them.

The representative of Cuba said a clear distinction between peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance should be made. In some cases, hegemonic appetites were being concealed behind the mask of humanitarian activities. Cuba opposed and would continue to oppose any activity that contradicted the United Nations Charter.

The representative of Mexico also rejected attempts to use humanitarian emergencies as a pretext for international involvement. He said that humanitarian assistance should be provided only with the consent of States -- it was not up to the international community to decide when a country needed assistance. The use of force could only become a reason for future instability. Peacekeeping operations could include a humanitarian component, and international bodies that supplemented efforts in a particular country should act impartially and in accordance with the established principles.

On the question of civilian police, the representative of Norway said that they were a scarce resource, and that it was unrealistic to assume that the international community would be able to fully satisfy the requests for such personnel. A key factor in solving the problem would be for the United Nations to focus predominantly on educating and training local police. In that regard, the Organization must allocate sufficient resources for the establishment of local police training facilities and programmes. Also, a professional police force was of little value without a judiciary and penal system and a locally recognized legal code.

The representative of Kenya said that all aspects of police participation in missions should be reviewed. Possible alternatives to active service police officers should be explored, and some additional measures should include the finalization of guidelines for civilian police and streamlining the selection process. Regarding consultations between the Security Council and troop contributors, he said that their current level was not satisfactory, and that more efforts could be made to enhance them.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Uruguay, Venezuela, Ghana, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Bolivia, Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire, Nepal and Rwanda, as well as the observer for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

The Special Committee will continue its general debate at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 15 February.

Committee Work Programme

When the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations met this afternoon, it was expected to continue its general debate on all aspects of peacekeeping. The Special Committee is holding its four-week annual session, which will last until 10 March. The key issues for consideration are contained in the Secretary- General's report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Special Committee (document A/54/670). (For background information on that report, see Press Release GA/PK/164 of 11 February.)

Statements

RAFAEL DAUSA CESPEDES (Cuba) supported the statement made previously by Jordan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. He said that peacekeeping operations continued to be a useful tool in maintaining international peace and security; however, they could not be considered a substitute for measures to eliminate the root causes of conflicts. The rules and principles of United Nations involvement, which had been designed over the years, continued to merit respect and should be faithfully implemented. One of them envisioned that the parties had to give their agreement for a peacekeeping operation to be deployed, another that the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity played and important role.

The role of the Security Council could not be underestimated, he continued. In some recent cases, peacekeeping operations had turned into tools in the hands of certain groups, instead of being the tool of the whole international community. The United Nations must be given new dynamic machinery to implement peacekeeping missions without delay, when needed. The standby arrangements, founded on commitments made by each Member State, were a proper tool in that respect. The selection of personnel should be conducted with full transparency. His delegation also shared the concern that the publication of guidelines in humanitarian law had not yet taken into account the requests of the Special Committee and the Non-Aligned Movement.

It was necessary to make a clear distinction between peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance, he said. In some cases, hegemonic appetites were being concealed behind the mask of humanitarian activities. Also, until real causes of conflict were tackled, it would be impossible to overcome the conflicts. Cuba opposed and would oppose any activity that contradicted the Charter, and hiding behind humanitarian assistance was certainly an example. Peace could not be maintained or imposed, unless the questions of development, freedom and human rights were addressed.

JORGE PEREZ OTERMIN (Uruguay) said that under the new scenario, peacekeeping operations were dealing with new challenges. The Special Committee had a tremendous responsibility to act as a catalyst for what was happening in the field. For the missions to produce better results, it was necessary to deal with new mandates and previously unknown functions.

Despite several restructurings, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was still overwhelmed by the volume of work, he continued. The Department’s personnel were overworked, and the medium-term plans should take its needs into consideration. Rapid reaction machinery should be included in the standby arrangements and should ensure appropriate recruitment of police observers. Police units must get resources in keeping with their functions. Training efforts merited great attention, and there should be exchange of experiences and information between the training centres. His country could offer assistance in the training of personnel.

Along with other aspects of security, a comprehensive review of the question of air security was necessary, he said. It was gratifying that, upon Argentina’s proposal, the Security Council had considered the question of safety and security last week. Arrears in compensation to troop contributors must be liquidated, and payments made to the countries which had provided the contingent-owned equipment, he added.

WILMER MENDEZ (Venezuela) said it was widely recognized that peacekeeping operations played an important role in United Nations history. Although not a substitute for peaceful settlement of disputes, they provided important support to efforts to achieve lasting peace. The nature of conflicts today meant that the transformation of peacekeeping was essential. The complexity of issues facing the Organization meant that peacekeeping operations must be conducted in accordance with principles such as impartiality and the non-use of force except in cases of self-defence. Support in keeping with magnitude of tasks was necessary and was the responsibility of the international community.

The Security Council must also bear major responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, he said. Troops in a peacekeeping mission were there to support the activities carried out by humanitarian agencies. But while humanitarian assistance imparted a special dimension to peacekeeping operations, activities must not be duplicated. Brainstorming to enhance international cooperation would enhance coordination and could lead to the adoption of specific practices or doctrines.

He said it was encouraging to see positive interactions between regional organizations and the United Nations. While cooperation was important, difficulties had also been encountered. The United Nations should have the pride of place, as did the Security Council in the maintenance of international peace and security. Delays in reimbursing equipment and resources to countries posed a serious problem. In recruiting new staff, qualifications of candidates must take geographical distribution into account. Transparency and consultation between the Secretariat and Member States were also essential.

YAW ODEI OSEI (Ghana) said that peacekeeping was undergoing tremendous transformation in the face of threats to global peace and security. A genuine debate on its future direction could no longer be withheld. Adequate resources were essential for the United Nations to respond to the complexities of ongoing and new challenges. The events in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor and Sierra Leone underscored the critical role of civilian police in nurturing post-conflict peace-building. Without the institutions of law enforcement, the process of reconciliation and reconstruction could not be nurtured.

A major difficulty facing many troop-contributing developing Member States was the prompt mobilization of resources, he said. Ghana supported the position of the European Union that the United Nations logistic warehouse in Brindisi, Italy, should be revamped and restocked to facilitate prompt inception of Security Council-mandated peacekeeping missions. Ghana was unhappy at the slow pace of reimbursement to troop contributors by the United Nations. Procedures for assessing, notifying and settling those claims promptly to dependants of victims must be streamlined.

HAGGAI OLANG-DULO (Kenya) associated himself with the statement made by Jordan on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and said that although commendable progress had been made in some cases in Africa, it was necessary to address the role of the United Nations and regional organizations. He urged the Security Council to establish clear criteria for authorizing peacekeeping and enforcement action. The criteria should also ensure equal and uniform level of intensity and commitment wherever a situation arose, regardless of geographical location.

Regarding consultations between the Council and troop contributors, he said their current level was not satisfactory. More efforts could be made to enhance and transform them into direct consultations. On personnel, his delegation took note of the Secretariat’s assurance that all offers to participate in peacekeeping operations would be given full consideration. Regarding efforts to ensure gender equality, he added that Kenya had contributed a total of 20 female military personnel to the Mission in Sierra Leone.

Continuing, he reiterated concern that many troop contributors were owed a lot of money by the United Nations and said that voluntary contributions to special funds must be seen as a supplement and not an alternative to sources of funds for peacekeeping. His country attached the highest priority to safety and security of international personnel and believed that much had gone wrong during the planning and execution phase in Sierra Leone, which in turn had affected the smooth deployment of troops in the field. All future training should be conducted prior to deployment and not during the mission.

Turning to the civilian police, he said that all aspects of its participation in missions should be reviewed. Possible alternatives to active service police officers should be explored, and some additional measures should include the finalization of guidelines for civilian police; streamlining the selection process and filling all vacant posts. It was also necessary to finalize the international legal code concerning the executive policing tasks.

On cooperation with regional arrangements, he reiterated that such cooperation must abide by the letter and spirit of instruments and mechanisms operating in each of the regional arrangements or agencies concerned. He noted the efforts to establish a regular forum of African and non-African States for strengthening cooperation in various capacity-building areas. However, it was regrettable that there had been no response on the recommendations presented by the African States on the subject.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that in the aftermath of armed conflict, particularly an internal armed conflict, a comprehensive approach to practical disarmament, demobilization and reintegration was necessary in order to prevent the recurrence of violent conflict. The focus of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration must not just be on the short-term demobilization programme, but also on the medium- and long-term problem of reintegrating ex-soldiers. United Nations officials who took part in the process must have an in-depth knowledge of the mechanisms involved. The security of ex-combatants who complied with the United Nations by handing-in weapons must be included in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.

Civilian police were a scarce resource, and it was unrealistic to assume that the international community would be able to fully satisfy the requests for such personnel in United Nations operations, he said. A key factor in solving the problem would be for the United Nations to focus predominantly on educating and training local police. In that regard, the United Nations must allocate sufficient resources for the establishment of local police training facilities and programmes. Training police was an essential aspect of security sector reform, and as such was important in providing an environment conducive to a lasting peace. A professional police force was of little value without a judiciary and penal system and a locally recognized legal code.

The ultimate aim of a security sector reform intervention must be to establish a secure environment that was advantageous to socio-economic development, he said. In order to lay the foundation of security sector reform, it was necessary to convey to local populations the humanitarian ideas and principles upon which United Nations peace operations were based. Towards this end, standby arrangements or service packages for communications assets, such as radio and television broadcasting, were desirable. In this regard, it was important to recruit women to all functions, as they were often able to build trust among the most vulnerable populations in a conflict area.

A peacekeeping senior management seminar, which Norway would host in May, would work towards preparing civilian and military personnel for top leadership positions in United Nations-mandated operations, he said. Smooth running civilian- military cooperation was crucial for the efficient and effective execution of peace operations. Civilian elements, such as humanitarian assistance, civilian police, gender and information strategies, would be discussed at the seminar.

FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said while peacekeeping operations did not provide solutions, they did prevent further deterioration of conflicts. Peacekeeping operations must be defined and the rules of law must be applied.

Turning to peacekeeping functions in the Middle East, he said the Secretary- General had been asked to speed up the improvement of working conditions of local staff at the United Nations Disengagement Force (UNDOF). Local staff in UNDOF had faced many difficulties caused by administrative and logistic arrangements. The main problem was the fact that they had not yet received hardship allowance since the mission's headquarters had changed location -- that situation must be rectified.

His delegation thought it necessary to maintain a standby force ready to intervene when necessary, he said. Peacekeeping operations should be differentiated from humanitarian operations. The Security Council was increasingly establishing operations that came under the humanitarian label. A balance must be struck between the role of the Security Council and the work of the General Assembly in the humanitarian field. Regarding procurement, it was the policy of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations that most procurement contracts were made with developed countries. That meant that developing countries received only a very small part of procurement opportunities. While keeping within the goals of peacekeeping operations, the practice of favouring developed countries must be changed to help developing countries deal with economic difficulties. Immediate reimbursement for families of peacekeepers fallen in service must also be made, while consultations between troop contributors and the Secretariat should also be enhanced.

MARAT OUSSOUPOV (Kyrgyzstan) said that the new methods of work adopted by the Special Committee last year would allow it to improve the results of its deliberations. Peacekeeping must be carried out in keeping with the principles of the Charter, including those of impartiality, sovereignty, non-use of force except in self-defence and territorial integrity of States.

His country was participating in peacekeeping activities in several countries, he continued. Now that the United Nations was involved in an unprecedented number of peacekeeping operations, he stressed the importance of timely implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, which could prevent future outbreaks of terrorism. As an example, he referred to a case last year when former fighters who had taken part in the inter-Tajik conflict, and who had been trained in Afghanistan, had seized hostages in the territory of his country. The United Nations should have the appropriate mechanisms to prevent crisis situations and combat acts of international terrorism.

It was also necessary to improve training of the civilian police contingents, he said. The Peacekeeping Department should have the necessary resources for that. Language training of the police should also be emphasized, for it could increase the number of those who could take part in the missions. The Department should also be able to ensure the high professionalism of the personnel, as well as equitable geographical representation.

ALBERTO SALAMANCA (Bolivia) said that international peacekeeping operations had been seriously tested by recent situations in Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Those missions had illustrated a need for the planning capacity and reaction time of this important function of the United Nations to be maintained and improved. Recruitment practices that reflected the widest geographical representation along with the principles of fairness and transparency would be the best way to facilitate coordination between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and other United Nations agencies.

The situation of financing for peacekeeping operations was an issue that demanded the attention of all the Member States, he said. As one of the most visible activities of the United Nations, peacekeeping required more dynamic support. Countries were contributing their most valuable resources -- human resources -- to peacekeeping. It was a matter of concern that reimbursement for troop-contributing countries was often tremendously delayed.

In today's changing world, peacekeeping operations were a challenge in planning as well as execution, he said. Therefore, it was necessary to provide Member States with the tools that would promote training on all levels; translation of training material was essential and appropriate seminars could be organized by the United Nations Assistance Team that would help the international community face those challenges.

ANACLETO REI A. LACANILAO III (Philippines) said that last year’s new missions in Kosovo and East Timor had brought the concept and practice of peacekeeping into new light. They contained new dimensions that should enliven the discussions in the Committee this year. Unless the way forward was made more clear by the Committee, and unless the reforms continued in the United Nations' infrastructure and practice of peacekeeping, there were more reasons for anxiety than optimism regarding the future of United Nations peacekeeping.

For its part, the Philippines was engaged -– as much as its resources allowed -– in both Kosovo and East Timor, he continued. That was an expression of its commitment to global and regional peace and security. As many small countries participated in peacekeeping, he could ascribe partly to arrogance and partly to naivety the assertion made by some politicians from rich countries that economically less endowed countries participated in peacekeeping in search of jobs and financial gains.

The extent of the mandates of new missions was undeniably more comprehensive than the traditional or multi-disciplinary approaches, which the Committee had debated for a number of years, he said. The worry, however, stemmed not from doubts regarding the validity or concepts of peacekeeping, but from the apparent overload in which the United Nations had slowly but surely trapped itself. Last year’s missions had been perhaps the most expensive. The United Nations was not only trying to “keep” and “make” peace, but also to “build” it. Furthermore, missions were continuing to proliferate. The mission in Sierra Leone had been further expanded last week, and a new mission was all but assured for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Nobody could argue against the significance and urgency of those missions, he said. But they made one wonder where the financial and personnel resources would come from for existing and future peacekeeping activities. He also wondered whether the Secretariat was appropriately structured, staffed and funded. The fact was that the realities on the ground had moved faster than the needed adjustments in the United Nations' approach to peacekeeping. “We should take a hint from the delays and the policy and logistical difficulties encountered in launching the missions in Kosovo and East Timor last year”, he added.

Launching peacekeeping missions had been the domain of the Security Council, he said. There was political wisdom and legal basis for such a state of affairs. But, because of the new demands on United Nations peacekeeping, full participation and cooperation of the international community at every stage were required for it to be successful. Troop contributors from developing countries should not be left out, as they felt they had been, during policy discussions and early planning phases of missions. Regular consultations between the Council and troop- contributing countries were also essential. The United Nations should now seriously consider investing its efforts and resources in a pre-crisis policy mechanism -- instead of responding to crises, it should prevent them.

ONOFRE LEONEL (Brazil) said that support of peacekeeping operations had been a major thrust of Brazil’s military activity. The Committee’s work should take into account the attributes of other United Nations bodies, such as the Security Council, which mandates peacekeeping operations, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ). Conscious awareness of the existing links between those bodies should be ensured by means of high-level consultations in the decision-making bodies of the United Nations. As peacekeeping operations took on more complex forms, there was frequently a gap between mandates and financial resources.

He said growing concern for the international community included respect for human rights, the provision of humanitarian assistance, limiting the spread of AIDS, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants. This concern indicated that the multi-disciplinary nature of missions was growing. Peacekeeping operations should evolve into political exercises with muscle -- maintaining peace and security while providing economic and social development.

While the Security Council provided the mandate for peacekeeping operations, the administration of peacekeeping operations remained in the Peacekeeping Department, he said. A search for cohesiveness and consistency should be promoted in relations with the Secretariat and other agencies. An increase in the number of civilians in peacekeeping operations might distort the chain of command leading from the Secretary-General to his political representatives and military commanders in the field. Respect for the principle of unity of command was important for ensuring the security of personnel and the success of missions. Given the rise in the number of peacekeeping operations, it was necessary to improve the regional organizations, such as the Organization of African Unity (OAU). To meet new challenges, the Peacekeeping Department must be reinforced to improve planning and manage its capabilities. Reimbursement was very much in arrears. That severely limited the ability of developing countries to contribute to peacekeeping operations.

Regarding procurement for peacekeeping operations, there must be total transparency in bidding procedures and a broader base for developing countries to participate as suppliers, he said. In long-standing missions, supplies such as foodstuffs could be procured in troop-contributor countries.

PABLO MACEDO (Mexico) said that humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping should not be confused. Although the line was sometimes very thin, it was necessary to distinguish between the two. It was essential to ensure respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of States, as well as their national unity.

Humanitarian assistance should be provided only with consent of States, he continued, and it was not up to the international community to decide when a country needed assistance. Some humanitarian emergencies had become a pretext for international involvement, and Mexico rejected such attempts. The use of force could only become a reason for future instability. Peacekeeping operations could include a humanitarian component. International bodies that supplemented efforts in an involved country should act impartially and in accordance with established principles.

CLAUDE BOUAH-KAMON (Côte d’Ivoire) said that peacekeeping operations were the concrete expression of the United Nations to ensure the maintenance of peace and security. Implementation was not easy and the decision-making structures were very sluggish. The expression, “the doctor arrived after the patient had died”, sometimes applied to peacekeeping operations. The example of Rwanda spoke volumes about that. Why, when there was profound conflict, had people refused to hold dialogue? Unfortunately, it was usually after destruction that people decided to find common ground.

The best peacekeeping operations consisted of preventive diplomacy backed up by a sustained economic and social policy, he said. It was necessary to act quickly when the seeds of conflict arose.

The increasing number of peacekeeping operations meant that all countries must contribute to the maintenance of peace and security, he said. Some African countries were encountering problems in participating in peacekeeping operations. The magnitude and complexity of contemporary peacekeeping meant that soldiers of peace must have experience commensurate with the nature of the operation. Massive assistance to Africans was needed to help them enhance their potential to be effective in peace missions.

JOSE ANTONIO LINATI-BOSCH, Observer for the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, said that the Order could be considered the oldest sovereign entity devoted to the care of the sick and the needy. It provided medical assistance and refugee aid in several countries, including Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Order had declared its neutrality since the beginning of the eighteenth century and had carefully observed it as a guarantee of its impartiality and independence.

Peacekeeping operations could be based on preventive diplomacy, as well as on preventive deployment, he continued. They must also take into concern the cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, and its fundamental importance in connection with the promotion and protection of human rights, that must be the fundamental aim of peacekeeping missions. Very fast and decisive actions were needed to minimize the damage on civil population.

Also required was effective coordination of all the entities involved. As an example, he referred to Burundi, where armed conflicts had sent more than 320,000 people to refugee camps in western United Republic of Tanzania. That figure had now increased by more than 50,000 persons. The presence of a large number of even well-intentioned actors could interfere with humanitarian work and diminish desired effectiveness as a result.

AUGUSTUS MUSENGA (Rwanda) said that when the Secretary-General had established an independent inquiry into the actions of the United Nations during the 1994 genocide in his country, the people of Rwanda had received it as “better late than never”. The important findings by the independent inquiry should not be kept on shelves to gather dust like other reports on his country. The United Nations should not go on failing Rwanda or the region. The well-elaborated recommendations should be a guiding factor for future peacekeeping missions.

He went on to say that the independent inquiry had highlighted the inadequacy of the United Nations Mission in Rwanda’s (UNAMIR) mandate; confusion over the rules of engagement; failure to respond to the genocide; lack of clarity in the communications between the Mission and Headquarters; and lack of analytical capacity and political will on behalf of Member States. The report clearly challenged the international community and evoked the responsibility of the parties of the 1948 Convention on Genocide. The very reluctance to acknowledge that genocide was going on in Rwanda was a manifestation of the unwillingness on the part of the powerful to live up to that responsibility.

HIRA THAPA (Nepal) said that peacekeeping was a precious instrument -- an innovation of the United Nations -- not to end wars but to lay the foundations for securing peace. Peacekeeping created diplomatic space for adversaries to use the negotiating table to resolve differences. Although the norms of peacekeeping had changed, the fundamental pillars of the establishment of any new peacekeeping operation should remain the same, namely, consent of the parties, the non-use of force except in self-defence, impartiality, clearly defined mandates and stable financing. Matching tasks with tools was very important, he continued. New missions could not function effectively unless they were backed both by political will andfinancial resources. The United Nations needed to have razor-sharp readiness to respond to crises quickly. With this in mind, the concept of a Rapidly Deployable Mission Headquarters should be considered a top priority. While there had been improvement in weekly reporting, more could be done by the Secretariat to brief prospective troop contributors when new missions were launched.