Special Committee on Peacekeeping stresses consultation with troop contributors, exit strategies, personnel protection, gender component for mandates

Report
from UN General Assembly
Published on 19 Jun 2001
GA/PK/172
Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations
164th Meeting (AM)

Today's peacekeeping operations, which involved both internal causes and regional consequences, demanded a multi-dimensional approach, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations was told today as it continued its general debate.

The representative of the United States noted that Africa had increasingly become the focus of Security Council attention, with 40 per cent of its meetings dedicated to operations there. Those operations were challenging the world in a new way. Affected regions needed a Department of Peacekeeping Operations that was able to manage complex, multi-dimensional peace operations. Kosovo and East Timor might not be the exact models, but examining them would help in preparations for future missions.

Among the many other issues raised during today's debate were the importance of effective consultation with troop-contributing countries, the importance of effective exit strategies, the need to include a gender component in peacekeeping operations, and the importance of ensuring the safety of United Nations and associated personnel.

Nepal's representative said that, as a major troop contributor, his country had closely watched the efforts being undertaken in the Security Council to strengthen cooperation between troop-contributing countries, the United Nations Secretariat and the Council itself. While the recent passing in the Council of resolution 1353 (2001) was evidence of its acknowledgement of the need to enhance such cooperation among the main pillars of the Organization, it was unfortunate that the outcome did not really respond to the needs of troop contributors. Troop contributors should have the opportunity to be involved in consultations - from conception to determination.

New Zealand's representative underlined the essential nature of effective exit strategies for peacekeeping operations. There would always be a reluctance to commit personnel to an operation without an end-point having been identified. Exit strategies must be flexible to adjust to the changing circumstances of a mission and be based on an objective military assessment. It was crucial to avoid jeopardizing the achievements of a successful mission by a precipitate withdrawal or downsizing.

The representative of Jamaica said she appreciated the efforts of the Secretary-General to incorporate a gender component into peacekeeping. It was regrettable, however, that the recognition of that critical need had not been equally matched by the requisite resources. While she appreciated the recommendation to include a few gender experts in the Peacekeeping Strategic Planning Unit, and to place a gender expert in the Personnel Management and Support Service, she expected that those issues would be discussed in a more substantive manner in the subsequent report of the Secretary-General.

Ukraine's representative said that the problem of safety and security of United Nations personnel, as well as associated and humanitarian personnel, remained one of the most acute and painful among the issues of United Nations peacekeeping. In that light, he welcomed the fact that the Peacekeeping Department had undertaken a comprehensive review of security requirements in peacekeeping missions. He shared the concern raised in the review about the need to clarify further current arrangements for security management for peacekeeping operations.

Statements were also made this morning by the representatives of Japan, Poland, Philippines, Tunisia, Morocco and Colombia.

The Special Committee will meet again at a date and time to be announced.

Background

The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations met this morning to conclude its general debate. For background information regarding the Committee's current agenda and the Secretary-General's comprehensive report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Brahimi Panel on Peace Operations, see Press Release GA/PK/170 of 18 June.

Statements

HIRA B. THAPA (Nepal) said the guiding principles of peacekeeping operations remain unchanged; peacekeeping still comprised the consent of the concerned parties, non-use of force other than self-defence, impartiality, clearly defined mandates and secured financing. Moreover, it should also be recognized that peacekeeping operations only complemented comprehensive peace efforts. Such operations were temporary and did not substitute for permanent solutions to disputes.

As a major troop contributor, Nepal had watched closely the efforts undertaken in the Security Council to strengthen cooperation between troop-contributing countries, the United Nations Secretariat and the Council itself. While the recent passing in the Council of resolution 1353 was evidence of its acknowledgement of the need to enhance such cooperation among the main pillars of the Organization, it was unfortunate that the outcome did not really respond to the needs of troop contributors. It did not promote any progress towards holding meaningful consultations among the main stakeholders in peace operations. Troop contributors should have the opportunity to be involved in consultations - from conception to determination.

The issue of delayed reimbursements to troop-contributing countries - the majority of which were poor developing nations - had negatively impacted the capacity of those countries to contribute troops. He called on all States to pay their assessed contributions to the Organization's peacekeeping budget on time, in full and without any reservations. On the Secretary-General's report, he said that Nepal had taken a strong position on the restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. It also strongly believed that troop contributors should be adequately represented within the Department. Nepal would further like to see the 93 posts approved by the General Assembly last year filled before the Committee considered the additional 150 posts recommended in the report.

He also felt that the post of Military Adviser should not be downgraded. His delegation underscored the need to process and analyse information, but would need further clarification on the terms of reference for the system-wide analysis unit -- an alternative to the Information and Strategic Analysis Secretariat (EISAS) -- proposed by the report. Creating a new bureaucracy, or substantially expanding an existing one, in the name of information collection would be problematic both for Member States and the Secretariat. Nepal also endorsed proposals for involving military advisers in the planning stages of peace operations.

CAMERON HUME (United States) said the United Nations' primary purpose was the maintenance of international peace and security. Peacekeeping issues and peacekeeping operations impacted virtually every United Nations Member State. He noted that Africa had increasingly become the focus of Security Council attention, with 40 per cent of its meetings dedicated to operations there. Those operations were challenging the world in a new way, because they involved both internal causes and regional consequences. Those operations now demanded a multi-dimensional approach. Affected regions needed a Department of Peacekeeping Operations able to manage complex, multi-dimensional peace operations. Kosovo and East Timor might not be the exact models, but examining them would help in preparations for future missions.

One area needing increased emphasis in the operations of today and tomorrow was civilian policing. In more general terms, his Government supported additional capacity for the Peacekeeping Department. In that regard, he asked for more information on specific requirements from relevant offices of the Secretariat over the next few weeks. On-call rosters and other rapid deployment tools were important for effective United Nations crisis response. "If we want the 30-90 day standard to be more than a political mark on the wall, Member States will have to contribute as conscientiously as they can to standby arrangements, as well as to resources for pre-positioned equipment of some scale", he said.

He added that he saw a critical need for an office within the Secretariat that brought together and analysed the many diverse "stove pipes" of information now flowing to separate United Nations offices. At the same time, he questioned whether putting that office under the direction of the Executive Committee for Peace and Security would provide an effective service to the United Nations system.

YUKIO SATOH (Japan) said that given the changes United Nations peacekeeping operations were undergoing, new thinking on how to organize them was required. The Brahimi Report was valuable in that context as it contained useful insights and recommendations. The comprehensive review was also valuable, because it contained some candid criticisms of the peacekeeping capacity of the United Nations and suggested well considered ways to improve it.

Enhancing the mobility of personnel, especially between Headquarters and the field, was crucial. That was an area where the Secretary-General could take immediate actions along the lines of the General Assembly resolution on the reform of human resources management (document A/RES/55/258). It might be useful, for example, to consider such steps as introducing a regular rotation between Headquarters and the field, and more frequent exchanges of personnel among various departments of the Secretariat and United Nations organizations.

Improving intra- and inter-departmental communication was also critically important in order to strengthen the function of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, he said. The requests made for 150 additional personnel must be examined carefully, and he was unconvinced of the need for a third Assistant Secretary-General for peacekeeping. He went on to say that given the significantly increased costs that the recommended steps for enhancing rapid-deployment capability would entail, the Committee should examine the costs and benefits of the suggested options before taking a decision. Another point he made was the importance of ensuring close cooperation between the Security Council and all those Member States that contributed to peacekeeping operations.

JANUSZ STANCZYK (Poland) associated his statement with comments made yesterday on behalf of the European Union. He reaffirmed Poland's continuous support to peacekeeping as the most effective tool at the Organization's disposal to preserve international peace and security. Last year, he continued, was a turning point in the quest to identify ways to improve United Nations peace operations, highlighted mainly by the report of the Brahimi Panel and the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Panel's recommendations and suggestions. Poland supported the recommendations in the reports, but was aware of the complexity of the issues under consideration, as well as the challenges facing their implementation. At the same time, the comprehensive review of peacekeeping as a whole was a major step forward in efforts to improve the system's overall performance.

He went on to say that Poland attached great significance to the issue of improving the Organization's rapid-response capability. Poland's own initiative, the Multinational Standby Forces High Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG) for United Nations Operations had been developed by a group of countries parallel to their significant involvement in the Organization's peace efforts. Those efforts had been highlighted in the Brahimi Report, as well as the Secretary-General's comprehensive review. He added that the intention of that initiative was to offer assistance to United Nations peace work, not monopolize it. It should be considered the initiative of several countries willing to do more.

Poland also supported the current efforts to enhance the United Nations Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS). He believed that it was especially important to improve UNSAS by such methods as establishing an on-call list of military and civilian personnel, and providing an updated list of UNSAS assets. On the reform of the Peacekeeping Department, he said it would be important to focus on initiatives aimed at providing adequate financing, restructuring and staffing. He said that the Department's performance would be significantly enhanced by improving its capacity for strategic analysis and by establishing integrated mission task forces. Poland also considered safety and security of peace workers a high priority and was deeply concerned that "Blue Helmets" continued to be targeted by hostile actions. He called for further improvement of security initiatives for personnel serving in the field.

TREVOR HUGHES (New Zealand) said his delegation had, for some time, seen a clear need for improvements in the management and resourcing of the Secretariat to enable it to respond better to the demands of peacekeeping. The Secretary-General's report was, for the most part, a sound blueprint. He hoped that the Secretary-General had begun to implement the management changes recommended in the report that fell within his competence, for example, in improving communication across the Peacekeeping Department and with other departments. He also hoped that the Special Committee would be able to resist any urge to micro-manage the reform process.

He had been particularly pleased to see the report's treatment of the issue of safety of personnel. The practical recommendations towards a field-driven approach should be promptly implemented. Member States also had an important role in contributing to the safety of United Nations personnel. He went on to say that effective exit strategies went hand in hand with improved deployment capacities. There would always be a reluctance to commit personnel to an operation without an end-point having been identified. Exit strategies must be flexible to adjust to the changing circumstances of a mission, and must be based on an objective military assessment. It was crucial to avoid jeopardizing the achievements of a successful mission by a precipitate withdrawal or downsizing.

He added that efforts to improve the operation of the Security Council to enable the participation of troop contributors in decisions must continue. He hoped that the promised follow-up to resolution 1353 (2001) would lead to a fuller consideration by the Council of proposals made by troop contributors.

ENRIQUE MANALO (Philippines) said that in the coming year the United Nations would face more and more complex challenges in the field of peacekeeping: the situation in many regions of the African continent continued to pose security risks; the efforts of the people of East Timor to move towards independence would be critically tested during elections this summer; and the Organization would continue to grapple with the situation in Kosovo, as well as the Middle East.

With those and other issues to consider, the Committee should moor its current debate to important themes that would help gauge the effectiveness and sufficiency of the Organization's current peacekeeping practices and mechanisms. He noted that the best way to respond to crises was to spot them before they occur. Conflict-prevention efforts were a crucial element of peace operations, and required good intelligence work and analysis to identify the root causes of potential conflicts.

On the issue of consultations, he said there had been a welcome unanimity among States on the need to enhance discussions with troop-contributing countries, although approaches to achieving broad cooperation on the matter varied somewhat. The Philippines had not remained oblivious to the Organization's efforts in that area, including the holding of open meetings with troop-contributing countries in the Security Council and its adoption last year of resolution 1327 to significantly strengthen the existing system of consultations. Unfortunately, that resolution did not go far enough, as it noted that the Council would resort to its enigmatic "private meetings" in its consultations with troop contributors. He added that the Council's latest resolution on the matter, 1353, also failed to adequately address the clamour of the troop contributors or the recommendations of the Brahimi Panel to institutionalize such coordination and cooperation.

As peacekeeping efforts became more and more complex, it was essential that troop contributors not be treated merely as suppliers of military manpower, but as critical components of the entire peace process from decision-making to the identification of requirements and the setting of mandates. He further noted that while a great deal of attention was paid to Council resolutions in the drafting stages, in most cases peacekeeping mandates were issued without providing peacekeepers the means to fulfil them. It was imperative for the Council to foster cooperative partnerships not only with troop contributor, but also with other United Nations organs, particularly the General Assembly, as well as international actors such as the Bretton Woods institutions.

M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said United Nations peacekeeping must be carried out in a more effective manner if was to remain relevant to the current realities. As had been clearly articulated in the Brahimi Report, the test of effectiveness of the Organization was its ability to rapidly deploy to areas of conflict and to ensure that the seeds of conflict did not recur. In that connection, Jamaica supported the view that there should be renewed focus on the coordinated planning, deployment, management and support for United Nations peacekeeping operations, logistics and procurement in light of the complex nature of peacekeeping.

Equally important was the need to develop a culture of prevention within the Organization, she said. In that regard, she welcomed the report of the Secretary-General on the prevention of armed conflicts, which supported the view that conflict prevention lay at the heart of the mandate of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security. Preventive action should be initiated at the earliest possible stage of a conflict cycle.

After addressing the issues of rapid deployment and policy and capacity development, she said she appreciated the efforts of the Secretary-General to incorporate a gender component into peacekeeping. It was regrettable, however, that the recognition of that critical need had not been equally matched by the requisite resources. While she appreciated the recommendation to include a few gender experts in the Peacekeeping Strategic Planning Unit, and placing a gender expert in the Personnel Management and Support Service, she expected that those issues would be discussed in a more substantive manner in the subsequent report of the Secretary-General.

She added that an issue of particular concern to her delegation was cooperation between troop-contributing countries, the Security Council and the Secretariat. Committee members could rest assured that during the remainder of Jamaica's tenure on the Security Council, it would seek to ensure that the subject would continue to receive the attention it deserved.

NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said that the recent surge in conflict situations requiring the deployment of peace efforts reflected the crucial role such activities played in the maintenance of international peace and security. Tunisia was committed to United Nations peace efforts, and while the Organization's work continued to expand, it was important to point out that peace operations could not be a substitute for identifying the underlying causes of conflict. Indeed, at the Millennium Summit last year, world leaders had identified, among other things, the critical relationship between conflict and development. With that acute observation in mind, peace strategies should be integrated with development initiatives in order to address root causes and prevent the resumption of conflict. He said that apart from garnering the requisite political will, reform of the Peacekeeping Department required improvement at the structural level, as well as the provision of adequate resources. Indeed the Peacekeeping Department needed to be supplied with every opportunity to adapt to the new demands placed on it by the rapidly changing nature of peacekeeping operations as a whole.

Strengthening cooperation among the troop contributors, Secretariat and the Security Council had aroused special interest throughout the Organization. Past experience showed the need for enhancing such cooperation, from the planning stages of peace missions throughout the life of operations. While the Council's recent resolution on the issue did not answer all the questions posed by the contributors, Tunisia believed it would serve as a platform that could be build upon later as discussions and negotiations continued. Cooperation was also important between the United Nations and regional organizations. That was particularly true of the United Nations work with the Organization of African Unity (OAU). If the main goal of the United Nations was to establish a solid basis of peace, then cooperation with regional organizations could only enhance that effort, particularly in the African region, where peace, security and stability were so desperately needed.

VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) underlined the need for a significant strengthening of the United Nations potential through genuine reform of its existing mechanisms. He fully shared the main thrust of the report of the Secretary-General that "we can no longer perpetuate the 'gifted amateurism' that has characterized our approach to peacekeeping today." The Department of Peacekeeping Operations should be enhanced through restructuring and by allocating additional staff and resources. At the same time, he was convinced that a lot of problems could be solved through the optimal use of available resources, streamlining of procedures and improved working methods.

He said that the problem of safety and security of United Nations personnel, as well as associated and humanitarian personnel, remained one of the most acute and painful among the issues of United Nations peacekeeping. In that light, he welcomed the fact that the Peacekeeping Department had undertaken a comprehensive review of security requirements in peacekeeping missions. He shared the concern raised in the review about the need to further clarify current arrangements for security management for peacekeeping operations.

He noted that Ukraine had always been supportive of the development of United Nations rapid-deployment capacities, including the strengthening of its Standby Arrangements System. Like many other delegations, having studied the three options put forward by the Secretary-General, he would appreciate more clarification on what was meant by the critical items of equipment load-list. He added that given the increasingly important role of the civilian police in current peacekeeping operations, Ukraine supported efforts aimed at improving management of that component in the Peacekeeping Department.

MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said that he supported the moderate and pragmatic approach of the report of the Secretary-General. In the face of increasingly complex peacekeeping operations, it was necessary to move towards an increasingly modern and action-oriented structure. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations must have the necessary human and material resources to do its job.

He noted that today's peacekeeping operations were different than they had been in the past. A pre-established framework was needed to help adapt to complex and changing situations on the ground. Exposing civilian populations and peacekeepers to danger must be avoided, and flexibility was, therefore, required in the day-to-day management of peacekeeping missions.

Consultations involving troop-contributing countries in decision-making were highly important, and he hoped they would be continued, he said. He added that there must be ongoing cooperation between the Peacekeeping Department and the Department for Political Affairs.

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) associated his statement with comments made earlier in the debate on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Rio Group. He looked forward to the coming negotiations, particularly those on the three options presented in the Secretary-General's comprehensive report on ways to enhance the Organization's rapid-response capacity. He also looked forward to discussion on enhancing peacekeeping capacity in Africa, with a broad view to ensuring peace and security in that continent.

He also looked forward to the Committee's discussions on the important issue of promoting coordination and cooperation among troop contributors, the Security Council and the Secretariat. In most cases, he added, the permanent members of the Council were not among those States that contributed substantively to the Organization's peace efforts. Therefore, it was important to enhance the role and status of troop contributors, from the mission initiation process through the completion of respective missions. He noted that, often, simple meetings might be enough to ensure the successful deployment of peace missions, as well as address the myriad concerns of troop contributors. He also emphasized the timeliness of such consultations, particularly during the identification of mandates, when and if new components were introduced or the rules of engagement were changed.