DR Congo + 4 more

Special Committee concludes debate on all aspects of peacekeeping

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Press Release GA/PK/167 161st Meeting (AM) 15 February 2000
The United Nations must react promptly, regardless of the source of conflicts, to avoid the recurrence of massacres, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations was told this morning as it concluded its general debate on all aspects of peacekeeping.

Addressing the situation in Africa, the representative of Algeria said that the continent needed concrete aid and real assistance. Africa was ready to assume proper responsibility for its problems, but the international community should also shoulder its share of the burden.

On the same subject, the representative of Zambia said that several peacekeeping operations in Africa had no clear mandates, inadequate troop strengths and shorter initial periods of operation than missions in other parts of the world. Compared with other missions, the statistics on expenditures for African peacekeeping were startling. As the time for action in the Democratic Republic of the Congo fast approached, the indifference to African peace missions should not be repeated.

Stressing the primary role of the United Nations in international peacekeeping efforts, many speakers in today's debate said that regional organizations played an important role in that respect, and that their potential for preventive diplomacy, post-conflict peace-building and resolving conflicts in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter should be used.

On the concept of "humanitarian intervention", the representative of the Russian Federation said that unilateral enforcement measures by a State or group of States without the approval of the Security Council contradicted the United Nations Charter. Unilateral use of force could undermine the whole system of international security and lead to chaos and anarchy in international relations. While the international community could not ignore flagrant violations of human rights, force in response to a humanitarian crisis must be applied only in accordance with a decision of the Security Council.

Analysing particular means of conducting peacekeeping activities, the representative of Malaysia said that it was difficult to achieve sustainable peace in a particular country without serious efforts to address the important question of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants. The Lessons Learned Unit should draw important conclusions from the existing missions.

On the subject of safety and security of international personnel, the representative of Colombia said that primary responsibility for providing such protection lay with the receiving country. Special attention should be paid to the elaboration of criteria for protection of local personnel, which often composed the bulk of a mission.

In that respect, the representative of Ukraine particularly stressed the importance of including specific and practical measures based on the provisions of the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel in each status-of-forces mission agreement.

Also speaking this morning were the representatives of Benin, Morocco, Belarus, Tunisia, Slovenia, Sudan and Ethiopia.

The next meeting of the Special Committee will be held at a date to be announced.

Committee Work Programme

When the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations met this morning, it was expected to conclude its general debate on all aspects of United Nations peacekeeping. The key issues before the Committee are contained in the Secretary-General's report on the implementation of the Committee's recommendations (document A/54/670). [For further details, see Press Release GA/PK/164 of 11 February.]

Statements

ABDUL DHALID OTHMAN (Malaysia) said that peacekeeping had become increasingly multidisciplinary in nature. It could no longer be viewed as a distinct and isolated event, but as an important component of international response in increasingly complex conflict situations. Under present conditions, it was important not to lose sight of the fundamental principles involved. Approval by the Security Council, clearly defined mandates, consent by the parties and impartiality were essential.

Turning to the disturbing number of continuing conflicts, he said that the Lessons Learned Unit should draw important conclusions from the situation in Sierra Leone, where disarmament was far from over; and the United Nations troops, instead of disarming the rebels, had been relieved of their weapons. One clear conclusion was that the continued availability of small arms to conflicting parties had a destabilizing effect. It would be difficult to achieve sustainable peace if serious efforts were not taken to address the important question of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex- combatants.

Continuing, he expressed hope that increased consultation and cooperation between the Secretariat and troop-contributing countries would continue. Continuous consultations were also necessary in the formulation of specific policies affecting peacekeepers. Member States should be informed as soon as possible when their offers to contribute troops were declined. Greater transparency would generate greater confidence.

He said that efforts to clarify some of the key principles and guidelines for civilian police operations should be commended. In conducting United Nations operations with an expanded role of police, it was necessary to outline the difference in tasks between the military and the police units to avoid misunderstanding and duplication.

The issue of delayed contingent-owned equipment reimbursement to developing countries still remained largely unresolved, he said. There was a correlation between delays in reimbursement and the willingness and ability of Member States to participate in peacekeeping operations. It was regrettable that some Member States had not fulfilled their Charter-mandated obligations to pay their peacekeeping dues on time, in full and without conditions. That situation was intolerable and needed to be addressed without delay.

JOHN MUSONDA (Zambia) said that, while his delegation agreed with the findings of the Secretary-General's report on Srebrenica, in the case of the Rwanda genocide, his delegation believed that there had been a deliberate attempt within the Organization to ignore warning signs. Moreover, the Rwanda report had not yet been discussed in the General Assembly as the Srebrenica report had been. After the Security Council's month-long debate on African issues, it was Zambia's hope that the Council would give due attention to Africa's problems.

Where the Security Council had authorized peacekeeping operations in Africa, there had been no clear mandates, shorter initial periods of operation and inadequate troop strengths, he said. While United Nations missions in other parts of the world had been given 12 months in which to assess their successes or failures, the same opportunity had not been extended to Africa peacekeeping missions. More startling were the statistics on expenditures for African peacekeeping missions as compared to missions in other regions. One could assume that force levels in Africa were kept low in order to reduce spending. As the time for action in the Democratic Republic of the Congo fast approached, the indifference to African peace missions should not be repeated.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo had the largest land surface in Africa, and the nature of the conflict was complex, with many players, he continued. Zambia expected that the envisaged peacekeeping force would be of an appropriate size with a clear mandate and with peace-enforcement authority. Regarding cooperation with regional arrangements, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was the only regional organization capable of conducting a peacekeeping or peace-enforcement operation. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) could be a partner in preventive diplomacy or action, but could not realistically be considered a full partner in peacekeeping operations at the moment.

Zambia had no objection to the evolution of peacekeeping as long as expanded peacekeeping activities were acceptable to the parties of the country concerned and resulted in the establishment of peace and security, he said. Consultations should take place between the Security Council and troop- contributing nations before activities were included in a mission's mandate. He hoped that the mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo would help insure the protection of civilians from attack, the provision of humanitarian assistance and the promotion of human rights.

SAMUEL AMEHOU (Benin) said that with limited resources his country was making great efforts to contribute to United Nations peacekeeping operations -- it was training peacekeepers, and its troops were participating in manoeuvres involving several countries. His Government had just signed the standby forces memorandum, placing its troops in the service of the United Nations.

Benin needed international assistance to build its capacity to participate in peacekeeping operations, he continued, and he thanked those who had provided assistance to his country. Among other training measures, some refresher language courses for civilian police would be useful. He added that timely reimbursement by the United Nations Member States participating in peacekeeping should be carefully considered, because of seriously destabilizing consequences of the delays.

ELHASSANE ZAHID (Morocco) associated himself with the previously expressed position of the Non-Aligned Movement and said that the growth of the number of peacekeeping operations and crisis-prevention efforts in 1999 had presented difficulties to the United Nations. New and expanded operations had demonstrated that it was imperative to improve the planning of missions.

It was important to remember that peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance were different activities with different objectives, he said. Interaction between those aspects required great coordination efforts. To ensure the success of missions, it was necessary to conduct consultations between the Security Council, the parties concerned and troop contributors before any decision regarding deployment was taken.

Greater transparency in the selection of personnel was needed, he said, as were efforts to ensure equitable geographical representation and high professionalism of peacekeepers. It was necessary to expedite reimbursement to troop-contributing countries. Also, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations needed more personnel to successfully fulfil its duties. Timely payment by all Member States of their assessed contributions would greatly enhance peacekeeping activities.

MESDOUA ABDELKADER (Algeria) said the United Nations must react promptly, regardless of the source of conflicts, to avoid the recurrence of massacres. The situation in Africa appealed to the international conscience to assist in establishing peace. The people of the African continent felt a growing frustration, especially as the United Nations rapidly deployed and mobilized resources for peacekeeping operations in other regions.

Africa must also shoulder its own responsibilities, he said. African leaders must react given the enormous consequences of conflict on the African people. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) Summit had proven that African leaders were determined to find settlements to conflicts and devote resources to economic and social needs of their countries. However, Africa assuming proper responsibility for its problems did not mean that the international community, including the United Nations and the Security Council, should not shoulder their share of the burden.

Africa needed concrete aid and real assistance, he said. Strengthening the African capacity for peacekeeping had become a leitmotif of many debates on peacekeeping operations. But what Africa really needed was support and not just another consultation body to discuss African issues.

Contributions to African peacekeeping fell far below expectations, he said. For example, contributions made to a special fund for African peacekeeping had remained insufficient to meet the great needs of Africa in peacekeeping operations. The European Union had distributed a non-paper listing possible actions to strengthen the African capacity for peacekeeping. It would have been more enlightening, however, if the non-paper had been reinforced with figures, rather than just showing good will and examples of what had been accomplished by United Nations peacekeeping in other regions.

He said he realized that the effectiveness of peacekeeping was linked to the financial crisis of the United Nations. The crisis had had a direct repercussion on the capacity of the Organization to respond promptly to crises around the world.

GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said that an unprecedentedly high demand for United Nations peacekeeping operations proved that United Nations-led peacekeeping operations remained an effective tool for crisis resolution and promotion of global and regional stability. His country supported enhancing the legal foundation of peacekeeping operations in strict conformity with the provisions of the Charter, Security Council resolutions and norms of international law.

Deviation from the Charter and unilateral recourse to enforcement measures merely exacerbated problems, as had been the case in Kosovo, he said. The mission in East Timor, on the other hand, presented a positive example of United Nations peacekeeping, in part because a timely reaction to the crisis there had made it possible to launch a multifunctional operation. He was convinced that, in most cases, the advantages of United Nations-led peacekeeping operations versus "coalition operations" were overwhelming. However, against the backdrop of limited United Nations resources, it was sometimes justified that interested States did not carry out operations within "ad hoc coalitions" or multinational forces.

His country could not accept attempts to introduce into international practice the concept of "humanitarian intervention", which allowed for the use of unilateral enforcement measures by a State or group of States without the approval of the Security Council. Such a policy contradicted the fundamental principle of the United Nations Charter. Unilateral use of force could undermine the whole system of international security and lead to chaos and anarchy in international relations. While the international community could not ignore flagrant violations of human rights, force applied in response to a humanitarian crisis must be applied only in accordance with a decision of the Security Council.

Regional organizations should use their potential for preventive diplomacy, post-conflict peace-building and, where appropriate, peacekeeping for the sake of decentralization and diversification of peacekeeping efforts, he said. His delegation attached great importance to the cooperation of the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in the settlement of conflicts within the Commonwealth territory. As the majority of peacekeeping operations were multifunctional, coordination of activities in planning and implementation was increasingly important. Several humanitarian organizations had their own permanent mandates, which very often were not directly linked to the purposes and objectives of United Nations peacekeeping.

Drafting of operational procedures of civilian police in multilateral peacekeeping operations must be completed and made available to Member States, he added. The most important element for guaranteeing the efficiency of civilian police was the division of its functions from those of the military peacekeeping contingents. Regarding the financing of peacekeeping, a comprehensive reform of the scale of assessment for peacekeeping operations should be carried out in such a way that the scale reflected the economic situation of States and their capacity to pay.

ULADZIMIR VANTSEVICH (Belarus) said that peacekeeping operations were of paramount importance at the current stage of the development of international politics. His country had always supported the United Nations as a unique and universal international organization, which bore primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security. It should remain a key body in that respect.

Conflict prevention must retain high priority on the agenda of the international community, he continued. Member States should elaborate universal measures for the prevention of conflicts and common mechanisms for handling the crises. Since the last meeting of the Special Committee, the Peacekeeping Department had been subject to a serious test as a result of the deployment of two huge new multi-dimensional missions in Kosovo and East Timor. Tribute should be paid to the Secretariat, which had successfully accomplished its tasks despite a significant reduction in the number of the Peacekeeping Department staff.

To ensure swift and resolute deployment and management of peacekeeping operations, the issue of coordination was becoming especially important, he said. Consultations between the United Nations Secretariat and Member States in the early stages of mission planning should be strengthened, as should consultations with regional arrangements. Close cooperation between United Nations departments was also of utmost importance. The value of transparency in recruiting skilled personnel should not be underestimated.

He said that last year Belarus had become more involved in peacekeeping activities. It had skilful and experienced personnel capable of effectively fulfilling mission mandates. In the field of procurement, Belarus was also hopeful that its registered enterprises would be granted contracts.

MOHAMED SALAH TEKAYA (Tunisia) associated himself with the position of the Non-Aligned Movement and said that peacekeeping operations represented one of the important tools at the disposal of the United Nations. His country was involved in the Organization's peacekeeping activities. While the recent expansion in peacekeeping had reaffirmed its importance for the maintenance of international peace and security, it could not replace tackling the root causes of conflicts.

The Peacekeeping Department had undertaken tireless efforts to deal with urgent situations and face the challenges of the recent expansion of peacekeeping activities, he continued. To improve the United Nations capacity, better coordination was required between the Security Council, the Secretariat, troop contributors and the parties to a conflict. His country supported the system of standby arrangements and had signed a memorandum on that matter.

In view of the increased participation of civilian police, the international community needed to further explore that option, he said. Safety and security of personnel was of utmost importance, and timely reimbursement to troop-contributing countries should be ensured. International efforts to reinforce the collective capacity of African countries and regional organizations to resolve the crises on the continent should be commended. However, the United Nations had the ultimate responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

SAMUEL ZBOGAR (Slovenia) said peacekeeping remained a key instrument in discharging the Organization's responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security. The United Nations had been given unprecedented responsibility to rebuild Kosovo and bring East Timor to independence. The nature of armed conflict had changed and civilians often became deliberate targets of attack. Peacekeeping had consequently changed and had become increasingly multi- dimensional, reaching far beyond military tasks and encompassing a variety of other functions, such as human rights monitoring.

While the cooperation between humanitarian activities and peacekeeping must be enhanced, he said, United Nations peacekeeping could not be a substitute for permanent political solutions. Slovenia shared concern for the safety of United Nations personnel in the face of increasing security threats. In that regard, it was necessary that mandates for peacekeeping operations be clearly defined. Clear lines between peacekeeping and peace enforcement should also be defined. The size of a force must be commensurate with the risks it faced. Mandates should avoid creating unrealistic expectations among the local population.

DAFFA-ALLA ALHAG ALI OSMAN (Sudan) said that peacekeeping should be supported as an instrument for maintaining peace and security. The framework in which peacekeeping was operating should include the consent of parties to conflict, total impartiality, non-use of force except in cases of self-defence, clear mandates and clear timetables based on the principle that any peacekeeping operation was a provisional measure and not a radical solution to a conflict.

There was a need to draw clear distinctions between humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping operations, he said. There was no reason to mix up the two concepts to serve the goal of imposing force under the pretext of humanitarian action. It was high time that the General Assembly played a role in managing peacekeeping operations, particularly as the mandates of operations evolved. Since many operations were multidimensional, aspects related to the mandates of the General Assembly had nothing to do with the Security Council.

The promotion of Africa as a participant in peacekeeping was necessary, and the international community must build Africa's peacekeeping capacity by involving African institutions such as the OAU. This would help all African States to benefit from peacekeeping operations. It would also allow organizations to tap into the skills of the continent.

ANDRES FRANCO (Colombia) said that in establishing the mandate of a mission, it was necessary to guarantee its clarity and to ensure respect for sovereignty and integrity of countries. Appropriate mechanisms of international cooperation should be followed when pursuing peace in a particular region. In view of the complexity of peacekeeping operations, it was necessary to determine the scope of the term "eacekeeping" and clearly distinguish it from humanitarian assistance.

The humanitarian component of peacekeeping was important, as conflicts affected civilian population, he continued. However, before resorting to force, it was necessary to explore all the means available to the international community. It was also important to make a clear distinction between the cases when a local government was prepared to collaborate in the provision of international humanitarian assistance and the cases when it was not. Turning to the bulletin on international humanitarian law in relation to peacekeeping operations, he said that it was necessary to conduct broad consultations with Member States before its final version was published.

Regional organizations played an increasingly important role, he continued, particularly in Africa. He noted the good results of such cooperation in the Central African Republic and Sierra Leone. The results of independent investigation in Rwanda were extremely important, and lessons should be learned from that experience. They should become part of the terms of setting the mandate in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Safety of United Nations personnel had been a subject of debate in the Security Council recently, he said. Primary responsibility for providing such protection lay with the receiving country. Special attention should be paid to the elaboration of criteria for the protection of local personnel, for such personnel often composed the bulk of a mission.

VOLODYMYR Y. YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine) said that, in view of the evolution of United Nations peacekeeping, it was necessary to elaborate new approaches for facing challenges to peace and security. There was an urgent need to substantially enhance the United Nations peacekeeping potential. The primary responsibility of the Organization -- to maintain peace and security on the global scale - must be strengthened. Everything possible should be done to support the activities of the Peacekeeping Department to allow it to manage ongoing and future operations and missions. The role of the Special Committee in shaping peacekeeping theory and practice remained vital, and the new procedure for the Special Committee's sessions was a first step in the right direction.

Welcoming efforts to enhance the collective capacity of African countries to participate in peacekeeping, he supported the proposal to establish a working group to address that issue as soon as possible. A proposal to establish a group of experts of the Security Council dealing with African issues was also useful. Ukraine strongly condemned all acts of violence against the peacekeeping and humanitarian personnel and welcomed the recent debate in the Security Council on their protection. In that respect, he wanted to particularly stress the importance of including specific and practical measures based on the provisions of the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel in each status-of-forces mission agreement.

Observance by United Nations forces of the norms of international humanitarian law was an important factor of the overall success of peacekeeping operations, he continued. In that connection, additional consultations were needed during the current session of the Committee in connection with the Secretary-General's bulletin promulgated by the Secretariat last August without the consent of all members of the Special Committee. Draft guidelines should also be developed police as soon as possible on general principles regarding the role of civilian. The time had come to elaborate the mechanism of the rapid deployment of civilian police.

BERHANEMESKEL NEGA (Ethiopia) said that while the increase in the number and complexity of peacekeeping operations demonstrated the important role of the Organization in peacekeeping, difficulties encountered in timely deployment should remind it of the challenges it faced in carrying out peacekeeping operations. New tasks such as civilian administration did not fall within the purview of traditional peacekeeping and presented a serious challenge. The success of the United Nations required not only the commitment of Member States, but also clear and achievable objectives in keeping with the Charter and the basic norms of international law. The United Nations involvement in complex tasks, moreover, could not set precedents for future missions.

As the United Nations became more involved in complex missions, its success depended on the ability both to build on past accomplishments and learn from past mistakes, he said. Ethiopia attached great importance to cooperation with different regional organizations. In Africa, the OAU continued its efforts in the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts. Its full capacity and comparative advantage had not been fully realized, however, because of a lack of institutional capacity and financial resources.

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