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United Nations peacekeeping faces 'uphill struggle'; surmounting challenges requires more expansive reform agenda, Fourth Committee told

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GA/SPD/412

Sixty-third General Assembly
Fourth Committee
18th Meeting (AM)

African Union-United Nations Operation in Darfur 'in Crisis', Renewed Violence In Democratic Republic of Congo, Possible New Mission in Somalia, Among Demands

Surmounting the challenges of ever greater numbers of multifaceted peacekeeping operations required the United Nations to pursue a more expansive reform agenda and generate more rigorous operational frameworks, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today, as it concluded its general debate on peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.

Outlining the scope of the challenges, Singapore's representative said United Nations peacekeeping clearly faced an uphill struggle. The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) was in crisis. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations was struggling to take over the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), grappling with resurgent violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and starting a possible mission in Somalia. Furthermore, the Department of Field Support faced recruitment and retention difficulties, and a slew of logistical challenges.

Despite the great strides that had been made to strengthen the Organization's peacekeeping -- including restructuring the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to include the Department of Field Support -- more reforms were needed, he said. The Peace Support Operations 2010 reform agenda was a useful framework to steer the Organization through the challenging times.

He underlined the need to address the protection of civilians in the next stage of developing operational guidelines for peacekeeping missions. He suggested that the Department of Field Support carry out an in-depth study of the report of the Independent Panel on Safety and Security investigating last year's bombing of the United Nations offices in Algiers, which highlighted, as one of the underlying reasons for the attack, the public perception that United Nations staff was not impartial and neutral. The lesson for the wider United Nations community was that, even as it embraced greater integration between peacekeepers and civilians, its efforts should be tightly welded to the principles of impartiality and neutrality.

Picking up the thread of the restructuring, leading to two Departments -- Peacekeeping and Field Support -- Ghana's representative stressed that the reform was not an end itself, nor a panacea for current emerging frictions in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Rather, the ability of the United Nations to successfully deploy peacekeeping missions also rested on developing realistic, viable and clearly defined mandates, and providing adequate logistical support. Timely deployment of peacekeepers, especially during the critical transition period from conflict to peace, was also needed.

Underscoring the importance of cooperating with regional organizations, he also called on the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to consider establishing frameworks for operationalizing that cooperation. Those frameworks would replace the current ad hoc arrangements with effective coordinating mechanisms and measures. Current gaps in the Police Division should also be adequately addressed, to enable the police to effectively play their role in missions.

Also during the morning meeting, the Committee heard from 11 other African delegations, many of whom welcomed the efforts of the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support in strengthening African peacekeeping operations, particularly through the African Union and other regional organizations.

The representative of South Africa highlighted efforts directed at developing joint action plans to address constraints identified by African Member States. He underlined the flexibility of the African Union in intervening in African disputes, due to its proximity and better understanding of specific conflict situations, pointing to early interventions in Burundi and Darfur. Given the worsening security situation prevailing in many missions, he placed particular importance on security sector reform, as that was critical to building sustainable peace, and he emphasized that it must be nationally owned and should address a country's particular realities.

Namibia's representative said the international community should put more emphasis on conflict prevention and peacebuilding, to thwart the emergence of deadly and expensive conflicts. Towards that end, early warning capacities of regional organizations should be strengthened, particularly in Africa

A number of those delegations stressed the need for the United Nations to give more support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Uganda's representative called on the United Nations to expedite the process of deploying United Nations peacekeepers to replace AMISOM. Ethiopia's speaker said that, while anti-peace forces in Somalia were exposing African peacekeepers to brutal terrorist attacks and were determined to perpetuate the suffering of the Somali people, the "asymmetrical" response by the international community was baffling and deeply frustrating. The international community should not only provide more resources, it should look beyond the stabilizing force to a long-term perspective.

Also speaking were representatives of Costa Rica, India, Egypt, Yemen, Swaziland, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Malaysia, Iran, Côte d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Kuwait, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Peru.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on 29 October to begin its consideration of questions relating to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Background

The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue its comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.

Statements

JORGE URBINA (Costa Rica), associating his remarks with those made on behalf of the Rio Group, paid tribute to the men and women who had served under the United Nations flag to keep and build peace. After 60 years, peacekeeping operations had new complex aspects, including fostering and supporting dialogue and bolstering State institutions. They required cooperation in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; assistance in security sector reform; respect for human rights; follow-up in institutional capacity-building; and active contributions to post-conflict reconstruction.

To accomplish those multifaceted tasks, he said a healthy administration of resources was needed. Towards that end, the integrated missions should include the strengthening of the role of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. They should also involve associations that supported the greatest benefit to all and reached even beyond other United Nations agencies to include other intergovernmental organizations. The large number of operations required better coordination between mandates and resources. Detailed analysis should be made to ensure that all mandates were in step with the host country's interest. "It was time for the United Nations to cease to babysit the conflicts," he stressed.

He further said that greater coordination was needed among the departments and groups responsible for planning and directing peacekeeping operations. Dialogue between the Security Council, the Secretariat and the troop-contributing countries should come before, and not after, decisions were made. A lack of unified and common understanding of the mandates in the area of civilian protection should also be addressed. Because mandates should include the civilian protection, comprehensive mandates that incorporated such protection were needed from the Security Council. Further, the eight mandates for civilian protection elaborated in 1999 should be implemented for more effective impact in the field.

Associating his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, E.M. SUDRARSANA NATCHIAPPAN ( India) said that the unprecedented surge in peacekeeping operations had given rise to enormous challenges, including the volatile environments in which the missions operated. Despite some measures taken, such as realigning the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, there remained a need to establish clear command structures, and hone strategies and policy.

He said that the United Nations should give priority to ensuring the safety of peacekeeping personnel in the field. Additionally, communication between the Security Council, Secretariat and the troop-contributing countries must be strengthened, since the habit of holding consultations "on the eve of renewal of mission mandates" left little scope for serious or meaningful discussions. Rather, troop-contributing countries must be involved early, and fully, in all aspects and stages of mission planning.

Peacekeeping capacity in Africa must also be strengthened, and cooperation with regional organizations there must be in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter. However, the real challenge before the United Nations was to strengthen peacekeeping without regionalizing it. A holistic and coherent United Nations approach to security sector reform should be coordinated between all partners. The incorporation of the Police Division in the Office of the Rule of Law and Security Institutions, and inclusion of a Police Adviser as a permanent member of the senior management team underscored the growing role of civilian police in peacekeeping.

He said that the issue of outstanding reimbursements owed to troop-contributing countries must be examined, and peacekeeping accounts should be consolidated, while administrative reorganization should be streamlined. That would help tackle the issue of the selective financing of peacekeeping missions. Member States should be entitled to cash surpluses of missions only if they did not owe dues to other peacekeeping missions.

MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, highlighted the importance of maintaining the Charter's objectives and the guiding principles governing the Organization's peacekeeping operations. Underlining the fact that the peacekeeping budget of the United Nations was $7 billion, while the Organization's regular triennial budget was only $4.2 billion, he said that had led to Organization's inability to provide the necessary troops or equipment to some missions in a timely manner. The increase in the peacekeeping budget was due to the exaggerated increase in the numbers of peacekeepers and personnel, and reflected a substantial defect -- namely the need for the Organization to focus on conflict settlement rather than conflict management. The global financial crises should motivate the United Nations to search for new ideas to achieve better advantages from existing mandates and available resources, and to strengthen peaceful dispute settlement mechanisms.

He said that the expansion in peacekeeping operations and the restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations should be consistent with the peacekeeping doctrine, and should preserve the governing principles of those operations, he said. He also emphasized the role of the General Assembly in formulating concepts, policies and budgets for such operations. Effective mechanisms of consultation between the Security Council and the troop-contributing countries should be strengthened and extended to the Peacekeeping and Field Support Departments. Unity of command in all United Nations operations should be preserved and the safety, and security, of troops and personnel ensured. Transparency and adherence to regulations and systems in procurement contracts should be upheld, with priority given to regional and national companies. Any failures by peacekeeping personnel -- particularly sexual exploitation and abuse -- should be addressed by upholding accountability policies. A culture of peacekeeping should also be disseminated widely throughout the Organization.

His delegation supported United Nations efforts to strengthen the African Union's peacekeeping capabilities and looked forward to the findings of the panel of international experts on that issue, he said. At the same time, it emphasized that the Organization's partnerships with regional organizations should be in the framework of the Charter's Chapter VIII. The current evolution of Security Council mandates for peacekeeping operations carried out with regional organizations, however, were no substitute for the United Nations central role. Egypt was concerned about the Secretariat's initiative to sign a cooperation agreement with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) without consulting Member States. It was also concerned over the indirect authorization, by the Security Council, to such parties to carry out tasks that fell within the Organization's competencies.

Associating his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, MOHAMMED M. ALI AL-OTMI ( Yemen) emphasized the need to participate in peacekeeping operations, as collective action was needed to preserve peace. Yemen was currently participating in 10 peacekeeping missions. He called for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to be more open to other countries, so that participation could be more genuinely universal.

Thanks to Yemen's experiences in peacekeeping operations, he said such operations should not be viewed as lasting solutions to conflicts, at the expense of avoiding addressing the root causes. Economic and technical assistance must be supplied to the least developed countries, in order to save them from poverty and the disruptions they faced as a result. The reports of the Peacebuilding Commissionand of the Secretary-General on the Peacebuilding Fund were very favourably received, for what was achieved in a very brief period of time.

He emphasized the need to apply the principle of preventative diplomacy to conflict resolution, while maintaining respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference. The world today was facing threats to global security and even survival, with the food, energy and financial crises all symptoms of a serious crisis. The international community must act to find solutions to those problems and mitigate its effects on the peoples of the world, as economies, agriculture and health were all affected, particularly in the least developed countries.

When a child stumbled, he said, the child got up and continued walking without thinking about why he fell. But when adults stumbled, they looked to see what caused them to fall. He hoped that the United Nations would look to the causes of the current crises and persevere to solve them. He firmly condemned the attacks and loss of life suffered by United Nations staff, and sent condolences to the families. He emphasized the need to strengthen police capacity, to protect and ensure the security of United Nations officers.

GEORGE AYI-BONTE (Ghana), endorsing the statement of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that peacekeeping missions had expanded laterally into the critical spheres of robust military interventions, police duties, reconstruction, humanitarian assistance and overseeing elections. In that context, expectations had also surged. Meeting the ever-growing demand for peacekeeping operations had stretched the Organization's capacity -- and by extension, its Member States -- to the limits. Undaunted, the United Nations had remained committed to its obligations, in recognition of the fact that it remained the only supra-national organization that could deploy, lead and sustain multidimensional peacekeeping operations. Yet, without appropriate reforms, it would be difficult for the United Nations to surmount, not only the challenges inherent in the quantitative increase in such operations, but also the qualitative evolution.

Noting that Ghana had endorsed the reform process outlined in resolution 61/279, he stressed that the achievement of that common vision could be realized only through unity of command and policy coherence. At the same time, that reform was not an end itself or a panacea for current emerging frictions in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Indeed, the ability of the United Nations to fulfil peacekeeping missions also rested on developing realistic, viable and clearly defined mandates. Equally important was the sufficient provision of adequate logistical support. Timely deployment of peacekeepers, especially during the critical transition period from conflict to peace, was also needed. Against that backdrop, the need for enhanced rapidly deployable capacities was paramount and should be urgently addressed by Member States.

He underlined the importance of cooperating with regional organizations and called on the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to consider establishing frameworks for operationalizing that cooperation. Those frameworks would replace the current ad hoc arrangements with effective coordinating mechanisms and measures. In that connection, he welcomed the efforts to strengthen African peacekeeping capabilities and stressed the importance of implementing the entire spectrum of the Joint Action Plan. He urged the international community to continue supporting African peacekeeping operations, particularly in the area of rapid deployment. Current gaps in the Police Division should also be adequately addressed, to enable the police to effectively play their role in missions.

JOEL MUSA NHLEKO (Swaziland), recognizing that peacekeeping operations had become more complex, said there was no "one-size-fits-all" approach suitable for those multidimensional operations. He reaffirmed the need to strengthen African peacekeeping to facilitate the African Union's rapid deployment capabilities, focusing in particular on conflict prevention and the development of the African Standby Force.

He said that the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support should continue to support the African Union, to ensure commonality of procedures and the cooperation of subregional communities. He welcomed the adoption of General Assembly resolution 62/214, and urged the two departments to come up with specific and practical programmes of action that would contribute to the overall objectives of the African Standby Force and generate a positive impact on sustainable development.

SAÏDOU ZONGO (Burkina Faso), underlining the role of peacekeeping operations as a primary element by which the United Nations could achieve its central mission, said the recommendations of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations were fully in keeping with that concept. As such, they should be part of the Organization's efforts to be fully mobilized to improve peace and security, and his delegation called for their implementation. The success of any United Nations initiative could only be achieved if it was carried out according to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, which were particularly relevant in planning peacekeeping operations. Further, the planning stages of those operations should include consultations with the troop contributors.

He said that better and predictable financing would improve responses to various conflicts. He also reaffirmed the need for structured partnerships to be established between the United Nations and regional organizations, which had first-hand knowledge of local conditions. Many conflicts arose from internal State disputes, and the United Nations peacekeeping efforts should adapt accordingly. Also, greater attention should be paid to the underlying causes of those conflicts, which were closely linked to poverty, poor wealth distribution and weak governance. That was particularly true in many African conflicts. The United Nations should seek to address the concerns over the lack of resources of both countries and regional organizations, such as Burkina Faso and the African Union.

Stressing that the United Nations should present a more honourable image, he called on the Secretary-General to continue to promote, with all parties concerned, the zero tolerance policy regarding sexual exploitation and abuse. The people of Somalia, who had long awaited United Nations action, deserved to be given assurances in that regard. He expressed thanks for efforts of the international community to strengthen the training facilities and capacity-building efforts for African armies and peacekeeping mechanisms, and he appealed to Member States to implement the Special Committee's recommendations, which would forge a true plan of action to allow peacekeeping operations to attain positive results.

JULIE KAMTO (Cameroon) said that she could not pass over in silence the wealth of information provided by the Special Committee, noting a number of documents, among them, the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations: Report of the Secretary-General (document A/62/627 and Add.1). She welcomed the United Nations praiseworthy efforts to preserve peace and security, including the restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Her country's concerns in the peacekeeping arena touched on the need to preserve the Organization's guiding peacekeeping principles, as well as the need for closer cooperation between the Security Council and the troop-contributing countries. Further, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations should avoid any overlap between its work and that of the Peacebuilding Commission. While all States bore the financial burden of supporting peacekeeping operations, that burden was heavier for developing countries.

She said that, as the scale of peacekeeping operations rose, the need for better training and more forces also grew. Cameroon, flowing from its desire to make a greater contribution to peacekeeping, had established the "EIFORCES" school to train staff and police forces from African countries. It was now considered a regional school because of its work with a wide array of partners. The initiative was responding to two concerns: diversifying its peacekeeping contributions; and supporting the African Union's work in Central Africa. Her delegation had watched the restructuring of the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, as they sought to maintain the six principles of resolution A/61/279, which had authorized the reform process. Recently, Cameroon had also helped to establish the logistics for the European Union Force (EUFOR) on the borders of Chad, Central African Republic and the Sudan. The European Union had allowed her country to provide supplies and to serve as a transit area for that Force.

NEGASH KEBRET BOTORA ( Ethiopia) said that the enormity of modern peacekeeping operations demonstrated that the world was passing through unchartered peacekeeping territories, which constantly presented sensitive, dangerous and complex challenges to the Organization. However, despite significant achievements, the United Nations had yet to address the challenges, and ensure peace and security, in an unstable and insecure world. In that regard, the "Peace Operations 2010" strategy must be vigorously pursued.

He condemned attacks on peacekeeping personnel "in the strongest possible terms", and said that the safety of personnel and the implementation of peace mandates were closely linked; no one aspect could be viewed in isolation from another. The United Nations must devise, on a priority basis, an effective mechanism to create a conducive working environment that ensured security and safety.

Anti-peace forces in Somalia were exposing African peacekeepers with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to brutal terrorist attacks and were determined to perpetuate the suffering of the Somali people, he said, adding that the "asymmetrical" response by the international community, however, was both baffling and deeply frustrating. The international community must support AMISOM by providing resources and logistics, and it must look beyond the stabilizing force to a long-term perspective. The Ugandan and Burundi peacekeepers in Somalia deserved the highest admiration for their commitment.

Associating his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, LEE CHEE LEONG ( Malaysia) encouraged the United Nations to use the wealth of information garnered over the past 60 years in peacekeeping to confront the current complex and multidimensional challenges. The ability to meet expectations and fulfil responsibilities, in that regard, was only as good as the support and commitment of Member States, which must provide unwavering support, especially in the area of human, financial and logistical resources.

He said that Malaysia had participated in 20 peacekeeping operations and two United Nations-mandated, NATO-led peacekeeping operations, and currently contributed 483 military and 269 police personnel in eight missions. To ensure the efficient and effective delivery of the multidimensional task of peacekeeping, the United Nations and Department of Peacekeeping Operations must create and refine synergies within the United Nations and other entities; maintain primacy of disseminating information to troop- contributing countries; preserve and ensure unity of command at all levels; and maintain a high quality of personnel, while ensuring geographical balance to equitably represent troop-contributing countries, particularly at Headquarters.

Regarding the peacekeepers' casualties, he said that "one life lost was one too many". He paid respect and tribute to those who had made the "supreme sacrifice" in the service of the United Nations and the noble cause of peace. He requested that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations thoroughly investigate instances of targeted violence against peacekeepers, so as to better prepare and avoid future mishaps and reduce unnecessary casualties.

AMIR HOSSEIN HOSSEINI (Iran), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the United Nations was the most appropriate international entity to respond to situations demanding peacekeeping actions. He emphasized the consent of parties and non-use of force in that regard, and said that impartiality should serve as a basic guiding principle in those operations. He further emphasized that all peacekeeping operations should be carried out with the United Nations authorization and under its leadership, command and control.

Also imperative, he said, was to put an end to any unilateral acts taken outside of the United Nations that were not consistent with international law. New measures and innovative approaches were direly needed to repeal or invalidate such unlawful acts, in order to prevent, or at the very least decrease, their occurrence in the future. When missions were carried out in accordance with the necessary principles, the human, financial and logistical resources must be precisely calculated, and clearly defined, to achieve mandates and exit strategies.

Security sector reform should be integrated into the broad framework of the United Nations rule of law activities, he said. The development of a United Nations approach to security sector reform must take place within the General Assembly, and the formulation of strategies for that process should be carried out through the intergovernmental process. Regional arrangements under the Charter's Chapter VIII should not absolve the United Nations of its responsibility to maintain peace and security. Rather, United Nations peacekeeping capacity should be strengthened, and improved, through cooperation and partnership with regional arrangements. That complementary role, however, should not substitute for United Nations peacekeeping or undermine its operations. Regarding the Enhanced Rapidly Deployable Capacities, he said that United Nations capacity should be enhanced by strengthening its cooperation with troop-contributing countries, without resorting to any forces or resources outside the United Nations system.

SIM TIONG KIAN ( Singapore) said the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) was in crisis. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations was struggling to take over the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), grappling with resurgent violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and starting a possible mission in Somalia. At the same time, the fuel, economic and food crises were threatening the fragile peace in many areas. The Department of Field Support faced recruitment and retention difficulties, and a slew of logistical challenges. United Nations peacekeeping clearly faced an uphill struggle and should be reformed. To that end, Singapore welcomed the Peace Support Operations 2010 reform agenda, which was a useful framework to steer the Organization through those challenging times.

He said that, with the restructuring of the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, great strides had been made to strengthen the Organization. Yet, if that effort was to be more than a job creation exercise, it had to fulfil its objectives. The Secretary-General's comprehensive report would be welcome in reviewing that effort, and Singapore was keen to know whether the integrated operational teams were working; whether the Peacekeeping Department's monitoring, analysis and response capabilities had improved; and whether the benefit of the restructuring outweighed its costs.

Given resource concerns, he called on the Department of Field Support to continue working with the Department of Political Affairs and the Peacebuilding Support Office to reduce the peacekeeping demands of existing missions. Developed countries should also contribute more peacekeepers or equipment. He also called on the Field Support Department to review its management systems at Headquarters, so that good performers were promoted and those who were ineffectual were replaced. That should be done without ignoring the need for equal geographical distribution. A policy for periodically rotating staff should also be considered.

Saying the publication of the "capstone doctrine" was a welcome development considering the need for clear guidelines, he emphasized that the next step was to translate the doctrine into useful guidelines and training modules. Those guidelines should also address the protection of civilians. As peacekeepers increasingly worked alongside more civilian and humanitarian partners in the field, the rising trend of malicious attacks by criminals and illegally armed elements was a growing concern. The report of the Independent Panel on Safety and Security investigating last year's bombing of the United Nations offices in Algiers was particularly instructive on how to address those concerns. It highlighted that one of the underlying reasons for the attack had been the public perception that United Nations staff was not impartial and neutral.

The lesson for the wider United Nations community was that, even as it embraced greater integration between peacekeepers and civilians, its efforts should be tightly welded to the principles of impartiality and neutrality, he said. In fact, the Department of Field Support should carry out an in-depth study of that report, and implement relevant lessons to ensure the safety and security of peacekeeping personnel.

Adding his remarks to the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, FRANCIS K. BUTAGIRA ( Uganda) noted the progress achieved over the past year to restructure the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, with a view to unifying command. He appreciated the streamlining and recruitment process, however, full compliance with General Assembly resolution 61/270 should be ensured, while bearing in mind the principles of transparency, fairness and equity. The ongoing exercise of recruitment of personnel on secondment to the military and police divisions should conclude with a relative measure of regional balance.

He expressed deep upset at the continued attacks, by armed dissidents, on peacekeepers, United Nations personnel and facilities, such as those witnessed in the Sudan in May and July. He strongly condemned such "disastrous" attacks, and requested that the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support work in tandem with the countries concerned to ensure security and initiate prompt investigations when such incidences occur, and consequently, inform the affected troop-contributing countries in a timely manner, as well as compensate the bereaved families. He called on the United Nations to expedite the process of deploying United Nations peacekeepers to replace the AMISOM.

KORY HARRIS (C ôte d'Ivoire), endorsing the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, recalled that when the crisis in her country was still ongoing in 2004, the Security Council, by its resolution 1528 (2004), had created the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) to aid, along with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other intergovernmental organizations, the Government of National Reconciliation as the peace process was launched. In July, that mandate was extended until 15 January 2009. Yet, with the signing of the Ouagadougou Agreement on 4 March 2007, the social and political situation in Côte d'Ivoire had clearly improved; it was now approaching normality. She called attention to the Secretary-General report of 13 October 2008 (document S/2008/645), which underlined that fact. Many milestones had been achieved in that linchpin period of her country's history. Indeed, the zone of confidence had been removed, and the freedom of movement of persons and goods had been established.

She said that, in line with the Special Committee's recommendations on the involvement of women and children in armed conflict, efforts had been made for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of child troops. That had been reaffirmed by the Security Council's recent discussion on removing Côte d'Ivoire from its annex on the recruitment of children into armed conflict. Thanks to the Ouagadougou Agreement, Côte d'Ivoire was moving towards peace. She expressed gratitude for President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso and to other partners, France and ECOWAS among them, who had supported the Agreement's implementation. All partners were committed to moving forward in the peace process.

Taking into account the results in her country, she stressed the need for dialogue in maintaining international peace and security. Having established peace in its own territory, Côte d'Ivoire was not participating in peacekeeping operations in Burundi or the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

ENRIQUILLO A. DEL ROSARIO CEBALLOS (Dominican Republic), aligning himself with the statements delivered on behalf of the Rio Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the increase in peacekeeping operations was due in part to the results generated by such missions over the years. However, not enough attention was being paid to conflict prevention and the promotion of sustainable development. The work undertaken by peacekeeping personnel was even more admirable in the face of increasingly difficult circumstances. However, the "inadvertent trend" of increased peacekeeping missions could be inverted with greater efforts to prevent conflicts.

He urged the United Nations to better support training for peacekeeping personnel, as that would increase the number of troop-contributing countries and enhance their professional capacity. A gender perspective should also be taken into account, and the report of the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) should be used as a tool to assist States to further incorporate women into the missions.

The recent extension of the mandate of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) was welcome, but in Haiti, there had been some difficulty in obtaining the assistance promised by donors, he said. The high-level conference on world food security, held in Rome in June, had only garnered $10 million in emergency aid for Haiti, which only translated into $1 per person. That was insufficient to ensure genuine change. The international donor community should fulfil its pledges and, thus, complement the MINUSTAH in the preservation of stability and public security.

HAMAD AL MEKRAD ( Kuwait) commended the important and central role of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in activating and invigorating peacekeeping operations in the face of the enormous global security challenges. The peacekeeping operations were vital in ensuring stability. There was, nevertheless, a need to thoroughly define the operations and their goals, including in the context of their humanitarian operations. Cooperation and consultation between the Security Council and the troop-contributing countries should continue, and new methods and mechanisms to strengthen such consultations should be created. Financial and technological support to the peacekeepers was also important, and comprehensive field studies should be done on a continuous basis to determine the troops' technological and training needs. Efforts to promote preventative diplomacy and early warning systems were also needed.

He commended the role of the United Nations in maintaining the border signs between Kuwait and Iraq, thereby implementing Security Council resolution 833 (1993). He expressed appreciation to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations for accomplishing that work. Kuwait had implemented all of the recommendations contained in the technical report on the removal of barriers, and was providing favourable conditions for the United Nations technical teams to perform their duties. It was also satisfied with the positive Iraqi cooperation in that regard.

Despite the fact that Kuwait's contributions to peacekeeping operations had increased five-fold in the past few years, he said it had always met its commitments to make its payments fully and on time, out of the conviction that providing peacekeeping missions with the resources they needed was crucial to their success. He hoped that all Member States would follow suit. In closing, he underlined the need to unite all efforts to guarantee the safety and security of all field personnel, no matter their role.

PETRUS SIPHO SEAKAMELA ( South Africa), aligning himself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, welcomed the steps being taken by the United Nations to mitigate risks. He encouraged the United Nations Secretariat to continue to accord highest priority to the safety and security of United Nations personnel in the field, in light of the worsening security situation prevailing in many missions. He placed particular importance on security sector reform, as that was critical to building sustainable peace, and he emphasized that it must be nationally owned and should address a country's particular realities. The Secretary-General's report titled "Securing Peace and Development: the role of the United Nations in supporting security sector reform" had been important towards developing a holistic, coherent, coordinated and comprehensive approach to security sector reform.

He advocated the mainstreaming of gender in peace missions, saying there was a need to increase women's participation at all levels in peacekeeping and in United Nations field operations. He urged the Secretary-General to accelerate that process, in order to meet the targets. He welcomed the efforts of the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support in strengthening African peacekeeping operations, especially those efforts directed at the African Union peacekeeping capacity to develop joint action plans to address constraints identified by African Member States. He underlined the need for a closer partnership between the United Nations and regional organizations, in particular the African Union, saying such organizations had greater flexibility to intervene, due to their proximity, and possessed a better understanding of specific conflict situations. That had been the case in the African Union's intervention in Burundi at a time when the United Nations had been unable to deploy in the absence of a permanent ceasefire. That was also true in Darfur, with the deployment of the African Union Mission, despite limited resources, which had enabled UNAMID's eventual deployment.

BOB D. KULIMA (Zambia), aligning his statement with the one made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said his delegation hoped that the leadership of the new Under-Secretary-Generals for Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support would give a "new lease on life" to United Nations peacekeeping operations. He paid tribute to the men and women who had made a difference between life and death, and between hope and despair, to the lives of millions of people in areas emerging from conflict. He condemned all acts of violence aimed at United Nations peacekeepers, and called on the Organization to develop a robust security policy to protect all categories of personnel. Zambia was prepared to work with all delegations to ensure that sexual exploitation was rooted out of all peacekeeping operations, and that any personnel committing abuses were duly dealt with. That malpractice should not be allowed to tarnish the Organization's good work.

He said that, as much as his country appreciated the way that peacekeeping operations were being conducted, it remained concerned about death and disability claim procedures. It had several claims that had been pending for many years, yet it constantly faced procedural changes in trying to fill them. He called on the Secretariat to simplify the claims procedures to enable their early settlement.

SIMON NYOWANI (Zimbabwe), aligning himself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, noted the importance of the Joint Action Plan for United Nations support of the African peacekeeping capacities, and said that support should be given to the proactive approach taken by the continent to establish a standby force, to quickly prevent and respond to conflict.

He called for stronger coordination between the African Union and the United Nations, and said that troop-contributing countries should be involved early and fully in all stages of peacekeeping operations. More frequent and substantive interaction among the Security Council, the Secretariat and the troop-contributing countries would also contribute to a more inclusive decision-making process. He hoped that the restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations would help meet the shifting demands of the mandates, but said the Department must take into account the interests of all parties, including respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the promotion of national ownership.

Disturbed by the continued loss of life of peacekeepers, he stressed that consideration must be given to eliminating those fatal incidents that could have been avoided. The success of the missions rested on the good conduct and discipline of its staff, and he gave unwavering support to the zero tolerance policy. It was particularly disheartening to note that children were among the victims, and he called on all troop-contributing countries to take all necessary precautions to eliminate those shameful acts, which tarnished the image of the particular countries and the United Nations.

In closing, he thanked the Department of Peacekeeping Operations for its sensitivity to issues of gender. At the same time, he was concerned with the handling of compensation for officers and peacekeepers that died while in service to the United Nations, and he called for transparency in processing compensation for their families, as it was "grossly unfair" to deny such compensation on "flimsy and unsubstantiated grounds".

NANGULA FRIEDA ITHETE (Namibia), associating herself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated her country's full support for United Nations peacekeeping operations. Peace and security remained the cornerstone to achieving sustainable development. In past years, peacekeeping operations had become too expensive and complex to manage. While the approach of conflict resolution was important, the international community should put more emphasis on conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The success of preventive diplomacy could undoubtedly thwart the emergence of deadly and expensive conflicts. It was equally important to strengthen the early warning capacities of regional organizations. As one of the regions most afflicted by conflicts, Africa would continue to require support to strengthen its early warning capacity, including at the subregional level, and she urged the United Nations to continue to provide that support.

She said that Namibia, as a country that had benefited from the peacekeeping process, was committed to playing its modest role in international peace through multilateralism, by contributing troops and police to various missions. Its pledged mechanized infantry battalion of 860 troops for UNAMID was ready for pre-deployment inspection. It remained concerned, however, about misconduct by United Nations troops, and reiterated its commitment to the zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse. Women's participation in peacekeeping operations was also important and should not only be viewed as a question of gender balance, but as a matter of adding -- through women's particular strength and wisdom -- to the chances of any peacekeeping mission's success.

Peacekeeping operations should strictly comply with the purpose and principles of the United Nations Charter, she said. Also important was enhancing cooperation among troop-contributing countries, the Security Council and the Secretariat. The principle of equitable geographical representation should be observed in recruiting peacekeeping personnel, and the selection process of those persons filling high posts in missions should be more transparent.

Endorsing the statements made on behalf of the Rio Group and Non-Aligned Movement, VITALIANO GALLARDO ( Peru) said his country currently had personnel on the ground in six peacekeeping operations, andan officer at the helm in Cyprus. He paid tribute to police, military and civilians that had served over the past 60 years, including the many who died while serving, and also recalled the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to United Nations peacekeeping efforts during the tenure of Javier Pérez de Cuéllar.

He said peacekeeping operations should be crafted so as to allow ownership by the host country, and conflicts must be solved, in order to strengthen the State's sovereignty. The necessary regional cooperation should be framed within Chapter VIII to preserve the universal character of a peacekeeping operation. The missions were part of a series of instruments that the United Nations and Member States had in response to peace and security, and coexisted with efforts to prevent conflicts, along with other tools, such as mediation and the efforts of the Secretary-General and the Peacebuilding Commission. With regional and other international organizations playing an ever greater role in peacekeeping,United Nations operations needed to be flexible, and crafted on a case-by-case basis. He stressed theneed for firm adherence to the Charter's principles.

Peace, security and human development were inextricably interrelated, and must evolve towards a more comprehensive approach to address not just the immediate causes of conflict, but sustainable peace and security, which required a more coherent strategy, he said. More careful consideration of factors on the ground would prevent hasty troop reductions and withdrawals. He reiterated his Government's support to Haiti, in particular, its participation in MINUSTAH. It would also deploy a joint company of engineers to Haiti, in cooperation with Argentina. He added that peacekeeping operations must contain a pre-established option to revise troops, otherwise the current gap between resources and mandates, such as in Darfur, would continue to hamper efforts.

For information media • not an official record