Peacekeeping Chief Tells of Secretary-General's 'Ambitious Agenda' for Post-Conflict Rebuilding, as Special Committee Opens Session

from UN General Assembly
Published on 22 Feb 2010 View Original

Special Committee on
Peacekeeping Operations
212th & 213th Meetings (AM & PM)

Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Calls Mission's Frontline Role in Haiti Test Case for Speedy, Flexible Response

With the United Nations peacekeeping architecture stretched and under increasing stress, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had developed an "ambitious, forward-looking" agenda to better enable it to contain violence, protect civilians and help national actors build peace after conflict, the head of the world body's peacekeeping operations said today as the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations opened its 2010 substantive session.

The new partnership agenda, based on the recommendations of the Brahimi Report and lessons learned, would focus on planning and oversight, field support, and policy and capability development, said Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. It would aim to fill critical gaps in peacekeeping operations while ensuring that troops were well-prepared, well-equipped and able to deliver on reasonable performance expectations. "I hope 2010 will set us on a path towards providing our personnel with the necessary guidance, resources and political and operations support structures to deliver all of their mandated tasks effectively," he added.

The Under-Secretary-General said the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Field Support (DFS) were hammering out strategies to build and sustain all aspects of peacekeeping capabilities, and to forge peace early on through rule-of-law activities, mine action, security-sector reform as well as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. The Departments intended to work with experienced troop- and police-contributing countries and other interested Member States to create baseline operational standards for specific uniformed peacekeepers.

Susana Malcorra, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, described the Organization's work in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, saying that DFS was working with the Secretariat and Member States toimprove services while calibrating tools and procedures to needs on the ground. The Secretary-General's Acting Special Representative in Haiti, the Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support and strong reinforcement teams had been deployed to replace the 92 staff of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) killed in the 12 January quake, Ms. Malcorra said. The Mission was on the frontlines of search-and-rescue as well as humanitarian aid efforts and would continue to play a lead role in reconstructing Haiti.

The tragic deaths of more than 100 United Nations civilian, military and police personnel in Haiti had created a vast gap, she said, adding that 2,000 more troops and 1,500 police personnel would be sent to the Caribbean island nation. " Haiti has proven to be a formidable test case of our ability to respond with speed and flexibility," she said. MINUSTAH had the difficult task of combining counselling for survivors and families, mortuary services, forensic identification and assistance to traumatized personnel with targeted joint efforts by DPKO and DFS to overcome logistical and support challenges.

Ms. Malcorra said DFS also faced challenges in Afghanistan, where last October's attack on the Kabul guesthouse in which five United Nations personnel had been killed and many others injured had prompted an immediate review of housing arrangements for all United Nations personnel, as well as a temporary relocation of non-essential staff to Dubai, pending the strengthening of security measures. DFS supported peacekeeping personnel deployed in 15 missions worldwide -- the most in the Organization's history. It provided logistical, administrative and management support to 14 special political missions. Its Global Field Support Strategy aimed to ensure more efficient, effective service delivery in four key areas: financial management and oversight; human resource management; creation of global and regional service centres; and innovations in logistics, including modularized service packages.

Among the more than other 20 speakers taking the floor today, Norway's representative described civilian protection as the most critical task in need of clarification. "We must come to grips with this issue to be able to deliver more effectively in the field. This is vital to uphold faith in the [United Nations], not only in countries wracked by conflict, but also in contributing countries," she said.

Calling for greater attention to sexual and gender-based violence, and emphasizing the need for more women peacekeepers to gather information about violence in local communities, she said United Nations peacekeeping missions were too often "resourced on the basis of the best-case scenario". While the Security Council had improved its dialogue with the Secretariat and troop- and police-contributing countries in respect of collective oversight of missions, its recent meeting on transition and exit strategies had not been open to all contributing countries, she pointed out.

Echoing the concerns about civilian protection, South Africa's representative said mandates must be clearly prioritized and the necessary equipment and resources deployed, pointing out that the high mobility and sophisticated weaponry of rebel forces called for a paradigm shift in United Nations peacekeeping practice. Timely consultations with troop-contributing countries before mandate renewals, more interaction between the Peacebuilding Commission and the Council, and stepped up cooperation between the Council and regional organizations had helped address some of those concerns.

Nigeria's representative said many missions lacked the mobility and air assets to meet their mandates. Robust peacekeeping -- a strategy to use force only when necessary to ensure implementation of a mission's mandate -- required effective command-and-control structures, adequate equipment and mission unity, he said, adding that modern technology, responsive logistics support and the delegation of authority to make difficult decisions in the field were crucial for that strategy's success.