Bosnia and Herzegovina + 8 more

Special Peacekeeping Committee begins four-week annual session: hears statements by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations

Format
News and Press Release
Source
Posted
Originally published


GA/PK/164
The past year’s experience had reaffirmed that peacekeeping remained a key and indispensable instrument for the international community, and that the United Nations continued to play a central and irreplaceable role in that regard, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations was told this afternoon as it started its four-week annual session.

In his opening statement, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Bernard Miyet said that, hopefully, the trend towards expansion of peacekeeping activities indicated a renewed readiness on the part of the international community to respond vigorously to threats to peace and security, no matter where they occurred. However, political support for operations must be accompanied by the will to provide the necessary resources. The total outstanding contributions to peacekeeping stood at nearly $1.5 billion as of December 1999. Payment of assessed contributions -– in full, on time and without conditions -– was essential.

Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, the representative of Jordan stressed that the establishment of new peacekeeping operations should be based not only on the consent of the parties, but also on the non-use of force -- except in self-defence, as well as impartiality, clearly defined mandates and secure financing. While peacekeeping was an important instrument in the maintenance of peace and security, it could not be a substitute for a permanent solution or for addressing the underlying causes of the conflict.

On the issue of personnel and recruitment, the Non-Aligned Movement was concerned that some regions were still underrepresented in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The Secretariat must show greater transparency with regard to selection procedures.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Portugal said that increased demands for United Nations peacekeeping had highlighted problems in the area of deployment and shortfalls in the number of available police. The need for civilian personnel should also be stressed. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations needed to ensure that missions were in place at the right time, with the right components and sufficient resources to achieve their mandates. Increasingly complex, multi-disciplinary missions required that coordination be a priority at every level.

The representative of New Zealand rejected the position that United Nations peacekeepers should not be given a mandate for the restoration of peace and security in a difficult environment, and that such jobs should be reserved for coalitions of the willing -- the United Nations emblem still possessed a substantial moral weight, which could have a tangible positive impact in highly charged operations.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Nigeria, Canada, United States, Egypt and Bangladesh.

In other business this afternoon, the Special Committee elected Arthur C.I.Mbanefo of Nigeria as its Chairman; and Arnoldo Listre of Argentina, Michael Duval of Canada, Motohide Yoshikawa of Japan and Zbigniew Matusewski of Poland as the four Vice-Chairmen. Hossam Zaki of Egypt was elected the Committee’s Rapporteur. Michael Duval of Canada was also appointed Chairman of the Committee’s working group.

Also this afternoon, the Special Committee allowed the delegations of Angola, Central African Republic, Iceland, Israel, Latvia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Viet Nam and Switzerland, as well as the European Commission, International Committee of the Red Cross, Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to participate in its work as Observers.

Ten new members joining the Special Committee at this session are: Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Republic of Moldova and Togo

Following a statement by the Special Committee’s Acting Chairman, the representative of Nigeria, on the organization of work, the Committee agreed on its tentative programme of work for the current session.

The Special Committee will continue its deliberations at 10 a.m. on Monday, 14 February.

Committee Work Programme

As the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations started its 2000 session this afternoon, it was expected to elect its Bureau and consider organizational matters before proceeding to a general debate. The Committee and its working group will meet from 11 February to 10 March 2000. The Committee had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Special Committee's recommendations (document A/54/670), which identifies key issues for this year's work.

According to the report, events of the past year have reaffirmed the central role of United Nations peacekeeping within the international community's wider efforts to advance peace. United Nations peacekeeping activities included creation of such large operations as the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET); deployment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and a major expansion of the operation in Sierra Leone.

The Secretary-General states that the Organization's universality ensures its legitimacy and political acceptability. The United Nations system has an unparalleled ability to coordinate action in a wide range of disciplines, including political, military, humanitarian and civil affairs; in civilian police, mine action and electoral efforts; and in economic assistance, rehabilitation and development activities.

As new operations with complex mandates are taking on new, often unprecedented tasks, they require especially high levels of administration and management. In a number of recently established or expanded missions, the United Nations has faced considerable demands in planning, deployment and support with very short lead time. This is a serious challenge to the Organization, requiring timely mobilization of human, financial and logistical resources.

A spirit of partnership is required for effective management, and Member States and the Secretariat have complementary roles to play, the Secretary- General states. Harmonization of political, social and developmental efforts can increase the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, ensure smooth continuation of efforts after their withdrawal, and reduce duplication during deployment of complex peacekeeping operations.

The Secretariat is continuing to strengthen coordination with specialized agencies and regional organizations. For example, in the Central African Republic, United Nations efforts towards security, elections and institutional reform were complemented by the efforts of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to promote economic stabilization and growth. Other examples include the joint assessment mission led by the World Bank in East Timor and the joint approach to donors for East Timor by the World Bank and the United Nations through the Tokyo Conference. There is also close cooperation between UNMIK and the World Bank.

Several operations exemplify partnerships with regional efforts. The Organization's new or expanded operations in Kosovo, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, East Timor, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone, together with ongoing operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Tajikistan, exemplify such partnerships with regional efforts, whether taken through or outside the established institutional framework of a regional organization. These experiences have testified to the fact that the primacy of the Security Council remains essential.

Also according to the report, ground-breaking efforts in terms of cooperation with regional arrangements have been undertaken in UNMIK, where the United Nations operation is collaborating with the European Union and with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Both organizations are working under the authority of the Special Representative of the Secretary- General. This experience may provide useful guidance for other joint efforts with regional organizations in the future.

The United Nations is also coordinating efforts with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) to establish a regular forum of African and non-African States for strengthening cooperation in various capacity-building areas. Proposals for the terms of reference for such a group were circulated on 19 April 1999, and a number of comments have been received; these arrangements will be finalized in consultation with the OAU, the Group of African States at the United Nations and donor countries.

However, the Secretary-General warns that regardless of the arrangements made within any particular mission, cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations inevitably poses considerable challenges. These relate, among other things, to the differences between respective mandates and financial and logistical resources, as well as separate channels of communication with Member States. In this regard, the Secretariat has widely circulated a lessons- learned report on cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations.

Regarding consultations with prospective troop contributors, the Secretary-General states that they start at the earliest stage of the planning process. As the planning advances, troop contributors are informed of the parameters of the operation and personnel requirements. Regular meetings with troop contributors are held under the chairmanship of the President of the Security Council, when a mandate is to be renewed or changed. Reports about particular missions are available to the contributors on a regular basis.

Also according to the report, ensuring good discipline of peacekeeping personnel is of utmost importance. Procedures that are followed in instances of alleged misconduct are well established and are based on United Nations rules and regulations. All offers by Member States to participate in peacekeeping operations are given full consideration. Where not all of these offers can be accommodated, feedback is provided directly to the relevant permanent missions on a confidential basis.

Regarding the phasing out of gratis military personnel, the report states that the Secretariat sought to permit an effective hand-over of responsibilities and to minimize disruptions. Future rotation of officers will be timed to avoid major simultaneous departures of experienced personnel. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations makes every effort to ensure high professionalism and broad geographical representation, as well as gender balance and fair selection of senior officials.

The Secretary-General further states that the process of formalizing the new structure of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations is nearing completion. The new division of responsibilities appears to be helpful in responding to current needs, although the rapid increase in workload has proven to be a major challenge to departmental staff.

On the subject of the standby arrangements system, the Secretary-General notes that as of December 1999, 87 Member States are participating in it -- 32 of which have signed a memorandum of understanding, 11 within the past year. Although discussions are continuing regarding the need to overcome deficiencies in the standby system, contributions from most Member States still have response times of 30 days or more. This can place severe limitations on the capacity to urgently deploy resources.

Following the Special Committee's recommendations, chief administrative officers are regularly informed about changes to United Nations rules and procedures and are consulted with on potential changes. In selecting contributors to missions, the Military Planning Service uses the standby arrangements system database. Similarly, through the use of a well-managed vendor database containing carefully screened companies, the Procurement Division recently started sending bid invitations to all vendors registered for the product category being sought.

Also according to the report, innovative methods of procurement have been introduced to meet urgent requirements without sacrificing the integrity of the United Nations. For instance, initial furniture requirements for UNMIK were met by utilizing the existing contract of the World Food Programme (WFP). All field missions are provided with substantial procurement authority at the outset of the mission.

Fundamental principles and rules on the observance by United Nations forces of international humanitarian law were finalized and issued on 6 August 1999 as a Secretary-General's bulletin. The text resulted from discussions between the Secretariat, the Member States and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The draft text was circulated to Member States at the end of June 1999. The Office of Legal Affairs and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations then jointly convened a meeting with Member States to permit a final exchange of views on the text.

There is increasing awareness of the importance of public information in peacekeeping, both as a security element and as a tool to achieve mission goals. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations has worked in close partnership with the Department of Public Information in order to disseminate objective and reliable information on United Nations peacekeeping.

Currently, the report states, it is necessary to develop new public information strategies and capacities; fulfil requirements for experienced and skilled staff; and ensure essential technical and material support for public information needs. Closer cooperation with governments and organizations in that regard might include specific standby agreements or service packages for radio and television broadcasting in mission areas, or identifying qualified public information personnel. Contributions to the Trust Fund for Public Information in Peacekeeping Operations would also be welcome.

Also according to the report, the model status-of-forces agreement issued in October 1990 continues to serve as the basic framework for the drafting of individual agreements. However, as status-of-forces agreements evolve, revised and new provisions have been regularly incorporated into them. As far as the security of members of United Nations peacekeeping operations is concerned, the responsibility of host governments in this regard will be underscored in future status-of-forces agreements. Notwithstanding the welcome entry into force in January 1999 of the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel, more needs to be done in that respect.

The Secretary-General states that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations is still in the process of conducting a general and comprehensive review of security matters. Due to the upsurge in peacekeeping, the Department has been obliged to redirect staff involved in these efforts to other pressing needs. Nevertheless, some of the key requirements in enhancing the personnel security have been highlighted and -- to the extent that financial and human resources allow -- are being implemented in the new missions. They include the deployment of the appropriate number of security officers, pre-deployment training, and provision of necessary logistical support. Continued strengthening of the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator would also enhance security.

The Secretariat has reviewed and enhanced its procedures to ensure a continuous flow of information to Member States, especially during periods of crisis. To promote safety of travel, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has undertaken a complete review of air safety as it pertains to peacekeeping. Efforts are being made to enhance training and to improve the civilian police components of the missions. The Secretariat has also begun to pursue further development of rosters of civilian administrators and other civilian personnel. The United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy, maintains stocks of certain essential equipment for field missions.

Rapid deployment capacity is being strengthened by identifying the staff serving in existing field missions who can be deployed at short notice and training understudies to assume the duties of the designated staff. However, this has at times imposed an unmanageable burden upon staff at Headquarters, particularly when start-up of more than one mission had to be explored concurrently. The Secretariat has also repeatedly sought to obtain full staffing for the rapidly deployable mission headquarters (RDMHQ), but could not get the necessary support to realize this concept. While two support account positions were approved for RDMHQ, the additional six posts were to be filled through redeployment within the Secretariat, which proved to be impossible. The Secretariat now intends to explore other options to achieve these goals.

With respect to reimbursements for troop costs and contingent-owned equipment, the Secretary-General states that it is the United Nations policy to pay all troop-contributing countries at the same time in order to ensure equal treatment of all governments. The timing of the payments for troop reimbursement and contingent-owned equipment, however, depends upon the receipt of assessed contributions. Claims for goods and services provided under Letter of Assist arrangements, as well as those for death and disability, are processed on an individual basis.

According to the report, over the last 12 months, considerable efforts have been made to process the backlog of claims. However, there are a number of constraints beyond the Secretariat's control that contribute to delays in processing the backlog. These include delays in the receipt of essential supporting documents from troop-contributing countries; the cash flow situation in the Special Account for Peacekeeping Activities; and, in a few instances, the need for additional appropriations by the General Assembly. With regard to the payment of compensation for death and disability, only 30 of the 564 claims submitted prior to 19 May 1997 are outstanding.

During the past year, concerted efforts have been made to complete liquidation of missions closed prior to December 1997, and this exercise is expected to be finalized in the current fiscal year. As for the missions closed after January 1998, procedures have been instituted to allow for the preparation of their liquidation well before termination of the mandates. As a result, it has been possible to conduct the liquidation of the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) and the United Nations Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) within the initial liquidation time-frame.

The Secretary-General notes that measures have been taken to refine the present mission start-up budgeting mechanism, which enables a new mission to become operational at a relatively early stage after being given its mandate. It also allows for replenishment of start-up kits at the Logistics Base once the budgets of the new missions are approved, thus providing the capability to provide start-up kits for subsequent operations promptly. All peacekeeping budget submissions to the General Assembly include a section on voluntary contributions, in which the Secretariat is required to report on all trust funds established in peacekeeping operations, including pledges, voluntary contributions received and expenditures thereon.

Elections

The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations approved its agenda and elected Arthur C.I.Mbanefo of Nigeria as its Chairman; and Arnoldo Listre of Argentina, Michael Duval of Canada, Motohide Yoshikawa of Japan, and Zbigniew Matusewski of Poland as the four Vice-Chairmen. Hossam Zaki of Egypt was elected the Committee’s Rapporteur.

The Acting President, Mr. APATA (Nigeria), then said that this year 10 new members were joining the Special Committee: Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Republic of Moldova and Togo.

He said that requests to participate as observers had been received from the delegations of Angola, Central African Republic, Iceland, Israel, Latvia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Viet Nam and Switzerland, as well as the European Commission, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

The Committee agreed to allow those countries and organizations to participate as Observers.

On organization of work, the Acting Chairman suggested that the Special Committee should establish, as it had done previously, an open-ended working group under the Chairmanship of Michael Duval of Canada to consider the substance of the mandate entrusted to the Special Committee. The working group would hold a series of meetings between 16 February and 10 March. The last day of work of the Special Committee should also be 10 March.

The Committee then approved its tentative programme of work.

Statements

BERNARD MIYET, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that a very few years ago, doubts had been expressed as to the capacity of United Nations peacekeeping to offer meaningful assistance in addressing conflicts. However, experience had reaffirmed that peacekeeping remained a key and indispensable instrument for the international community, and that the United Nations continued to play a central and irreplaceable role in that regard. Since the last meeting of the Special Committee, there had been an extraordinarily rapid expansion in the scale and nature of operations, which unfortunately had taken place at a time when means had been dramatically reduced.

Hopefully, the trend towards expansion indicated renewed readiness on the part of the international community to respond vigorously to threats to peace and security, no matter where they occurred, he continued. Unwavering political and financial support from Member States and strenuous efforts on the part of the Secretariat were essential if the high expectations for new missions and expansion of the old ones were to be fulfilled.

Three peacekeeping operations -- the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA), the United Nations Civilian Police Mission in Haiti (MIPONUH) and the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) -- were drawing to a successful close, he said. Their achievements should be viewed as a beginning, rather than an end. Real progress would depend upon the political will of local leaders. For its part, the United Nations would establish follow-up political missions that would take over from those peacekeeping operations in order to consolidate their achievements.

Turning to the challenges facing the Department of Peacekeeping Operations today, he said that one of the key concerns of the Secretariat had been to ensure close coordination between the various actors involved. Coordination within the United Nations system had been reinforced at Headquarters through the Executive Committees on peace and security and on humanitarian affairs. Furthermore, ad hoc task forces were being created to deal with specific operations and to address cross-cutting issues. By maintaining clear institutional divisions of responsibility, and entrusting both lead authority and the responsibility for consultation to one Department, consolidated guidance was being ensured. At the same time, coordination in the field had been strengthened through the consolidation of the Special Representative’s authority over all United Nations entities.

Obtaining qualified personnel for service within the field was of particular importance, he continued. Many difficulties arose from the fact that such missions as the ones in Kosovo and East Timor required new skills, which had not been necessary in the past. The Organization relied upon the assessments from the field to prepare job descriptions, and their evaluation required time. Member States should also anticipate some changes in demands. It would be particularly important that the budgetary and financial bodies be aware that the requirements were likely to change over the future months. He appealed to them to show necessary flexibility when confronted with new requests. In anticipation of the future, registration of civilian personnel had already begun.

There was also a tremendous challenge where police were concerned, he continued, for the level of demand for police in the field far exceeded available supply. The necessary steps must be further considered. Without the full support of Member States in such areas as training, preparedness, or standby rosters, the United Nations could not rise to the challenges before it. In that regard, he invited further suggestions, advice and assistance.

On the issue of timely provision of material and financial resources, he said that despite some initial doubts, the Logistics Base in Brindisi had amply demonstrated its usefulness over the past two years. For the first time, the Secretariat had been able to obtain authority for and enter into commitments for procurement of long lead-time assets, which were required for an anticipated expanded observation mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That was a first step. In the future, bolder measures should be examined in order to put in place a system that could respond to the arising needs.

The Organization’s ability to deploy operations hinged upon the fundamental question of the financial situation of peacekeeping, he said. The total outstanding contributions to peacekeeping stood at nearly $1.5 billion as of December 1999. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Controller’s Office had engaged in discussions on whether the current arrangements could be usefully modified. Unfortunately, however, they could see little recourse, other than improvement of the United Nations cash flow. Once again he underlined that payment of assessed contributions -– in full, on time and without conditions -– was essential. Political support for operations must be accompanied by the will to provide the necessary resources.

The intense demands upon the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at times stretched it to breaking point, he said. The Department’s loss of almost 70 professional had coincided with the sudden upsurge in peacekeeping. The Department had, however, successfully undertaken its tasks, because of extraordinary efforts by the staff. He deeply appreciated the decision of the General Assembly last fall that had provided much-needed resources and offered a solution to the needs created by the phasing out of gratis personnel.

The restructuring of the Department was now largely complete, even if some fine tuning might prove necessary, he said. Now it was essential that the new structure be given time to prove itself, as the Department addressed the needs at hand. The Department was continuing its efforts to address the need for gender balance at all levels, he said. Despite considerable advocacy and outreach to recruit qualified women staff, he regretted that not much progress had been made in that respect. The security of personnel in the field also remained a key concern of the Department, which greatly appreciated the renewed focus of the Security Council on that issue.

Among the key policy challenges of particular interest last year had been the preparation of draft guidelines on general principles regarding the role of civilian police. The Secretariat was working to comply with the Special Committee’s request for clarification on that matter. In view of the evolving role of police in peacekeeping, there was a need to study various dimensions of that phenomenon in more depth and to build political consensus in that regard. The Department had launched such a review of the role of police. The Secretariat was ready to provide all possible assistance, but it was essential that Member States take the lead in efforts to adapt civilian police doctrine to an expanded role in peacekeeping.

A second area that had received increased attention was the implications of HIV/AIDS in areas where peacekeeping operations were deployed. It was necessary to explore ways to reduce the risk of infection, and responsible behaviour of personnel should be promoted. Progress had also been made on the guidelines on the observance of international humanitarian law by peacekeepers. Growing awareness of the potential, as well as limitations of cooperation with regional organizations, was also among the major developments over the year.

In conclusion, he said that on the threshold of a new millennium, looking into the future, it was necessary to build upon the past. The lessons to be learned underlined the importance of joint action by Member States and the Secretariat; the requirement for clarity as to whether peacekeeping or enforcement was needed in a specific situation; the necessity of credible deterrent capacity; the need to improve information flows; and the key importance of sustained political will.

Mr. APATA (Nigeria), speaking in his national capacity, paid tribute to all the men and women serving in various peacekeeping missions and said that the meeting of the Special Committee presented the opportunity to address many of the issues facing the United Nations and others with interests in international peacekeeping initiatives. Today’s conflicts had become so complex that their management and resolution made it imperative for the United Nations to work in partnership with regional organizations. The efforts must be all-encompassing and should include promotion of human security, law enforcement, civil administration and enhancement of the safety and security of personnel.

Nigeria had been a major troop contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations for almost four decades, he said. Like other troop contributors, it made huge sacrifices in human, material and financial terms. He welcomed the initiatives aimed at enhancing the peacekeeping capacity of African States and noted that many African States were now participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations, both in Africa and other regions. He also welcomed the enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and the OAU and urged that discussion on the exchange of staff be concluded soon. The Secretariat’s efforts in the area of training and seminars organized jointly with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also should be welcomed.

While he welcomed all the attention paid to conflict in Africa by the Security Council, he urged that the composition of peacekeeping forces on the continent should reflect the geographical character of the United Nations. It had been argued that troops from the region found it easier to adapt and, therefore, should constitute the bulk of the United Nations forces. However, the forces should reflect the total character of the Organization. For example, it would make a tremendous difference if a contingent or two from Europe and the Americas were to participate in the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).

As for the enhancement of the United Nations capacity to respond to international crises in good time, his delegation fully agreed that the United Nations Standby Arrangements constituted a key to the increased effectiveness and rapid deployment capacity of peacekeeping operations. Nigeria remained very concerned at the delay in reimbursing troop contributors, for the situation had not improved in any significant manner.

The United Nations should not by its inaction cause difficulties that could undermine fledging democracies of the continent, he continued. An effective method of reimbursement was crucial, and it should be urgently put in place. It would be useful for the Committee to have a list containing details of the dates when troop contributors had been reimbursed in the last two years. It should include information about contingent-owned equipment. The delays were often caused by the late payment of assessed contributions, he said. Therefore, he called on all States to live up to their Charter obligations.

ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that United Nations peacekeeping had witnessed something of a resurgence. It was clear that Member States continued to perceive peacekeeping to be a crucial instrument of the United Nations in pursuit of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. The European Union was strongly committed to the primary role of the United Nations and the core function of peacekeeping.

The new peacekeeping operations of the United Nations in Kosovo and East Timor were multidimensional and had complex mandates. Comprehensive and coordinated management of multidisciplinary operations was crucial to enhance effectiveness and prevent duplication of effort. The Union fully supported all efforts designed to coordinate and promote continuity of peace efforts before, during and after peacekeeping activities so that the investments in peace the United Nations made were not lost.

The capacity of the United Nations in the peacekeeping field needed to be enhanced to meet future challenges, he said. Increased demands had highlighted problems in the area of deployment, shortfalls in the number of available police, and the need for civilian personnel. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations needed to be able to act in a timely manner and in an effective way to ensure that missions were in place at the right time, with the right components and sufficient resources to achieve its mandates. Regarding planning and coordination of peacekeeping operations, the litmus test must be whether or not operations were being effectively planned, deployed and managed. Key prospective troop-contributing countries must be involved in the early stages of planning new missions.

Increasingly complex, multidisciplinary missions required that coordination be a priority at every level, he said. Human rights tasks and humanitarian assistance -– if they were included in Security Council mandates -– must be fully integrated into the planning of peacekeeping operations. The Department must be able to recruit, deploy and manage police officers in United Nations peacekeeping. The shortfalls in the number of nominated civilian police was a cause for concern. While it recognized the difficulties behind the shortfall, the European Union encouraged the Department to pursue creative solutions to this problem.

The recruitment of other non-military personnel must be carried out efficiently without causing undue strain on the Department’s existing structures, he said. In this regard, the Union was establishing a database on its non-military crisis management capabilities. The Standby Arrangements System was the starting block for planning and rapid deployment of peacekeeping operations. The Union fully supported efforts to strengthen the system and make it more fully operational.

With regard to the Rapidly Deployable Mission Headquarters, the Union expected the Secretariat to fill the six additional posts that had not yet been filled. It expected the United Nations to respond to the Secretary-General’s request by making the fullest use of all relevant legislative instruments at its disposal at the earliest stages of planning.

The growing contact of peacekeepers with civilian populations in armed conflicts also created a need for more gender-sensitive personnel, he said, and the European Union supported gender-sensitivity training. The safety and security of peacekeeping personnel was also of paramount importance, and was a matter of utmost concern to troop-contributing nations. It was incumbent upon the Secretariat to ensure that peacekeeping forces were adequately protected. The Union supported the Secretary-General’s proposal to continue to strengthen the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator with personnel dedicated to security in peacekeeping operations. Member States, however, must also strive to ensure the safety and security of peacekeeping personnel.

The Union stressed the urgency for Member States to sign and ratify the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel and also the Statute of the International Criminal Court, he said. While it supported the principle of guidelines for peacekeepers on the question of international humanitarian law, a more consultative approach before publishing the guidelines would have been welcomed.

The threat of landmines to peacekeeping personnel was one of the reasons the European Union continued to give importance to mine action and the coordinating role of the Mine Action Service within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, he said. Also vital to the safety and security of peacekeeping personnel was an effective public information capacity. The use of radio was particularly effective and provided easy access to reliable and objective information to prevent manipulation and disinformation. Public information components must be incorporated in peacekeeping operations at the planning stage and deployed as soon as possible.

United Nations peacekeeping personnel also needed to be well-equipped and supported, he said. The Union called for the development of an over-arching logistics concept to guide efficient coordination between planning and management, establish a cost-effective use of resources, integrate civilian, military and police staff in the field and produce an up-to-date set of contractual and procurement regulations. The reform of the procurement process was an urgent priority to ensure rapid deployment of peacekeeping operations.

Regional organizations had a key role in the maintenance of international peace and security, he said. The Union attributed great importance to the enhancement of African peacekeeping capacity and endorsed the proposal to establish a working group on the subject. The Union commended the increase in participation of African peacekeepers around the world and would continue its efforts towards enhancing the capacity of African countries to participate in peacekeeping.

The financing of peacekeeping operations was a matter of fundamental importance, he added. Member States must meet their Charter obligations and pay their assessed contributions to the Organization promptly, in full and without conditions.

ZEID RA’AD AL HUSSEIN (Jordan), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that in the Secretary-General’s recently issued reports on Rwanda and Sbrenica the United Nations confronted two of the most bitter and painful chapters in United Nations peacekeeping experience. While individual Member States had begun their own inquiries into the two disasters, the Special Committee must address the shortcomings in peacekeeping cited in the reports and consider recommending to the Secretary-General that field experience be seen as a principal prerequisite for promotion and appointment in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

The establishment of any new peacekeeping operations should not only be based on the consent of the parties, but also on the non-use of force -- except in self-defence, impartiality, clearly defined mandates and secure financing, he said. While peacekeeping was an important instrument in the maintenance of peace and security, it could not be a substitute for a permanent solution or for addressing the underlying causes of the conflict.

In reference to the report before the Committee, the Movement believed that the phase-out of gratis personnel should be considered a closed issue, he said. It was crucial for the success of all missions that prospective troop- contributing nations were approached by the Secretariat at the earliest phases of mission planning. The views of contributors should not only be seriously considered, but also factored into the plan if their views were to be judged salient. The Security Council should also involve the troop contributors in the process of consultations from the beginning. The Movement requested that the Secretariat distribute monthly strength reports to all troop contributors.

Regarding the issue of misconduct, the report only repeated what the Committee had been told last year. Concern had stemmed from the realization that unilateral action taken by the United Nations to investigate alleged cases of misconduct could undermine further due process from transpiring in that particular State once the repatriation of the individual in question had taken place. Consultations between mission leadership and the concerned contributor should begin the moment misconduct was suspected, he stressed.

On the issue of personnel and recruitment, the Movement was concerned that some regions were still underrepresented in the Department, he said. The Secretariat must show greater transparency with regard to selection procedures. Regarding the selection of senior personnel, the United Nations should ensure that senior United Nations officials conducting interviews had themselves served in the field. In reference to the Secretary-General’s bulletin on the observance by peacekeeping forces of international humanitarian law, the Movement considered the matter still open -- there had been consultations over the matter, but not with the Special Committee.

On rules of engagement, the Movement asked for the assurance that whatever model was used would be uniformly used by all contingents participating in a mission, he said. On the issue of procurement, the Movementt believed that more could be done in widening the base of additional vendors to increase participation by developing countries. The Movement also believed that spokespersons for peacekeeping operations with the necessary skills to fulfil their assignment should be seconded from the Department of Public Information. Training of peacekeeping staff should take place prior to any development in the field.

In regard to civilian police, the Movement recommended that the guidelines for United Nations civilian police operations be issued and finalized, he said. Contributing countries should also be given advance briefings on personnel requirements. The Movement was concerned over the continued delays in reimbursement of troop costs and contingent-owned equipment leases. With regard to cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, existing instruments and mechanisms operating in each of the regional arrangements or agencies must be taken into account.

MICHEL DUVAL (Canada) said that the wider issue of human security spanned the full range of international relations, from conflict prevention to post-conflict remediation. Encouraging a pragmatic approach, Canada urged the Special Committee to focus on enhancing the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel. Canada also urged the Special Committee to act decisively to improve the United Nations capacity to respond rapidly to crisis. Central to this was a fundamental review of the premise underlying the concept of a Rapidly Deployable Mission Headquarters. The goal was to revitalize, review and implement the vital component of rapid deployment capacity. A review should consider the enhanced effectiveness of the United Nations Standby Arrangement System, refinement of the start-up kit concept, development and adoption of innovative contracting and financial mechanisms which promote rapid deployment, and incorporation of the contingent-owned equipment early in the process.

Rapid deployment was not just limited to the military dimension of peacekeeping operations, he said. It was equally important to have police and civilian components available for deployment in a timely and integrated manner. Canada shared the Committee’s concern at the current disparity between the global demand for United Nations civilian police and the finite collective ability of the international community to meet that demand. The recent expansion in United Nations civilian police operations revealed a critically urgent need to develop sound and effective doctrine and policy that supported civilian police operations. The Committee should review the current situation with a view to both increasing the supply of international police personnel and deciding whether the activities carried out by United Nations civilian police could be carried out by other functional personnel.

Peacekeeping training should be developed with a view to enhancing peacekeeping capacity within the context of a commitment to security sector reform, he said. Canada endorsed the concept of regional United Nations- certified peacekeeping training centres. It also encouraged the Committee to reinforce the need to expand the scope of the present United Nations Training Assistance Team (UNTAT) programme to include peacekeeping disciplines other than logistics.

TREVOR HUGHES (New Zealand) said that last year there had been an air of pessimism about the future role of United Nations peacekeeping, but that since then, there had been “a sea-change for the better”. For its part, New Zealand now had over 900 defence and civilian police personnel deployed in peace support operations. Most of them were in East Timor where New Zealand had played a significant role.

There was an urgent need to make the Rapidly Deployable Mission Headquarters (RDMHQ) a reality, he continued. It was disappointing that six of the eight posts remained unfilled, and he suggested that the situation should be reconsidered as a matter of priority. The present need to draw on Secretariat staff for the start-up phases of missions was not conducive to good management. He believed that RDMHQ could have played a useful role in East Timor and that a fully-functioning RDMHQ could be critical to the smooth establishment of the proposed operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

It was also necessary “to pitch a peacekeeping operation at the right level from the outset”, he continued. Recent experience from East Timor suggested that providing a sufficiently robust mandate at the beginning of an operation could lay the groundwork for a more orderly process later on. New Zealand and a number of other contributors to the multinational force approved for East Timor had hoped for the establishment of “a blue-bereted operation” from the beginning.

He said that his country did not accept the doctrine that United Nations peacekeepers should not be given a mandate for the restoration of peace and security in a difficult environment, and that such jobs should be reserved for coalitions of the willing -- the United Nations emblem still possessed a substantial moral weight, which could have a tangible positive impact in highly charged operations. Nor did New Zealand regard the tendency towards voluntary, rather than assessed contributions to support peacekeeping operations as healthy for the Organization or those in need of help.

The Organization still continued to struggle to provide timely reimbursement, principally because of the arrears owed by the largest contributor, he said. All contributions must be paid on time, in full and without conditions. Welcoming the circulation among the wider membership of the Secretary-General’s weekly situation report to the Security Council, he said that it should have been done years before. There was also a significant improvement in the quality of troop-contributors meetings, with better briefings provided and good exchanges of information between the participants. Continuing excellent work of the Mine Action Service should also be commended.

NANCY SODERBERG (United States) addressed some recent developments in peacekeeping and said that last month the Security Council had focused on Africa, where the Democratic Republic of the Congo presented a most urgent and difficult challenge. The stakes in that crisis were high, and the United Nations could not solve that problem alone. Nevertheless, it was necessary to work together to ensure that the United Nations could effectively contribute to a positive outcome. Member States must take the initiative to improve the United Nations peacekeeping capability.

The Secretariat needed to have an adequate “surge capacity” to quickly respond to the challenges of fielding complex, multi-dimensional peacekeeping operations, she continued. Such capacity must include both financial and personnel systems that were sufficiently flexible to provide the right level of resources at the right time. It was time to re-evaluate the current systems based on nearly 10 years of experience. It was necessary to ensure that the Secretariat had the authority to access, on short notice, personnel with special expertise. The Secretariat should also examine -– through a comprehensive review -– the entire peacekeeping backstopping function at Headquarters.

The Organization’s ability to recruit, train and deploy police officers should also be improved, she said. Once deployed, they should get effective support. Contributing States could help the United Nations by improving their ability to identify, prepare and rapidly deploy qualified personnel.

Turning to the issues of safety and security of peacekeepers and other personnel, she said that all Member States shared a responsibility to protect them. Under all circumstances, United Nations and associated personnel had the right to protect themselves. Nevertheless, it was incumbent upon host States to create secure environment for the missions. With the need for peacekeeping and humanitarian operations growing, it was necessary to improve the ability to respond quickly to changing situations and to take the necessary steps to protect the personnel.

Regarding the recently-issued Bulletin on the application of international humanitarian law, she said that while all forces participating in peacekeeping operations must scrupulously abide by the applicable legal standards, the Bulletin did not make a useful contribution to that end. Her delegation was alarmed at the unsatisfactory and summary process leading to the issuance of the Bulletin. More importantly, however, she was concerned that the guidelines risked creating confusion and promoting inaccurate views of the international humanitarian law.

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said that the United Nations had in the past year faced two very burdensome operations -- in Kosovo and East Timor. The planning of those two operations had placed severe strains on the United Nations, Member States and the Secretariat alike. While Egypt was aware of the political conditions that had led to the establishment of those operations, there were a number of issues that should not go unnoticed by the Committee. The Security Council’s increasing inclination to adopt mandates for peacekeeping operations that were considered “miniature booklets” included specific directives for administering a province or a State that did not pertain to peacekeeping. This issue needed to be discussed.

Egypt was committed to the position of the Non-Aligned Movement on the need to differentiate between peacekeeping and humanitarian activities, he said. The General Assembly should be entrusted with the responsibility of addressing that subject. Egypt placed great importance in supporting the consultations between the Security Council and potential troop contributors in the planning and implementation phase of operations mandated by the Security Council. The current level of consultations at the planning stage was not satisfactory and efforts must be made to enhance them.

Referring to the issue of dangers faced by peacekeeping personnel, the United Nations had not properly indicated its concern to the family of the Egyptian pilot that had died while serving the mission in Angola in 1998, he said. Families of victims were often unaware of United Nations bureaucracy, and in that regard, the United Nations must help alleviate the plight of families that had lost loved ones. Egypt was also disturbed by the policy of recruitment within the Secretariat on matters relating to peacekeeping. This discomfort stemmed from the ambiguity of the applicable criteria, especially regarding appointments within the Department. The policy regarding gender balance also required review.

Concerning the initiative to enhance the capacity of African States in the field of peacekeeping, he said that while the Secretariat had a year ago displayed great enthusiasm in that regard, no action had been taken on the part of the Secretariat. African nations were justified in wondering why that enthusiasm seemed to have died. They also wanted to know what would be done in the future on the subject of enhancing African peacekeeping capacity. SHAMIM AHMED (Bangladesh) said events during the past year had reaffirmed the central role of United Nations peacekeeping within the international community’s wider efforts to advance peace. The United Nations certainly offered advantages not to be found elsewhere, including the universality of its mandate, political acceptability and the breadth of its experience.

Bangladesh supported the establishment of the RDMHQ at the earliest opportunity, he said. Consultations with the troop-contributing countries at the earliest stage of the planning process was an important element for launching an effective operation. Briefings by the Secretariat in those consultations should be thorough and adequate. That was particularly important so that the peacekeeping contingents were not placed in an undesirable position upon arrival at a mission area. The situation faced by the civilian police contingents from Bangladesh in UNMIK last year was a case in point.

Civilian police played an increasingly prominent and critical role, he said. In that connection, his delegation wanted to stress the importance of developing at an early date an agreed guideline on the principles governing the role of civilian police personnel in United Nations peacekeeping. As financing was the collective responsibility of all Member States, it was imperative that all Members, especially the developed ones, fulfil their commitments in accordance with their existing scales of assessment.

Expressing concern at the existing delay in the settlement of the compensations for death and disability, he noted that considerable progress had been made in processing the initial backlog of death and disability claims. After the important decision on the uniform rate of such compensation, the Secretariat should now develop procedures for payment of the dues in the remaining cases in a speedy manner. He also expressed serious concern over the continued delays in the reimbursement of troop costs and contingent equipment leases, which caused hardship to all troop and equipment contributing countries, especially the developing and the least developed countries.

On the training of troops and civilian police personnel, he said that while such training was essentially the responsibility of the Member States, the United Nations also had an important role to play. In that connection, he expressed appreciation for the efforts of the training unit of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and reiterated his Government’s preparedness to offer a venue in Bangladesh for the establishment of the South Asia Peacekeeping Training Centre.