Peacekeeping's best assurance against insecurity in field was well-planned mission where there was peace to keep, Fourth Committee hears as it launches debate

Report
from UN General Assembly
Published on 24 Oct 2008 View Original
GA/SPD/410

Sixty-third General Assembly
Fourth Committee
16th Meeting (AM)

Complex Nature of Peace Operations Calls for Robust, Streamlined Peacemaking, Peacebuilding, Sometimes 'Peace Enforcing'; Early Troop Contributor Involvement

The changing and increasingly complex nature of peacekeeping operations called for more coordinated, robust, streamlined peacemaking, peacebuilding and sometimes even "peace enforcing", the Fourth Committee was told today, as it launched its general debate on the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.

Because the best assurance against the risks of insecurity in the field was a well-planned mission, said Morocco's representative on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, whose member countries supplied more than 80 per cent of peacekeeping personnel in the field, those should not be deployed in a void or in places where the political process was non-existent or compromised.

Troop-contributing countries should be involved early and fully in all stages of operations, she stressed, urging more frequent and substantive interaction among the Security Council, the Secretariat and the troop-contributing countries, as that could contribute to a more inclusive decision-making process.

She reiterated the Movement's principled position on peacekeeping -- that the establishment of any operation or extension of its mandate should strictly observe United Nations Charter principles, particularly, the consent of the parties, the non-use of force except in self-defence, and impartiality.

Throughout the morning meeting, speakers debated how to improve and enhance the Organization's peacekeeping doctrine to address the most precarious conflicts. The discussion unfolded against the backdrop of the multifaceted challenges facing a number of missions, including last year's forced withdrawal of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) and the, as yet, unfulfilled mandate of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

Expressing particular concern over the challenges of mobilizing resources for the ambitious mandate of UNAMID was Australia's representative. He, along with several other speakers, said that one lesson of the Brahimi Report was the need for "clear and achievable mandates with resources to match".

Speaking on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CANZ), he urged the Secretariat and Sudan, the host Government, to work better in overcoming that Mission's problems, but also cautioned against raising peacekeeping expectations that the international community could not meet.

Sudan's Ambassador said his Government had completely implemented its obligations under Security Council resolution 1769 (2007), concerning UNAMID. It was also completely committed to the deployment of 80 per cent of the UNAMID force and to reaching a political solution to the Darfur conflict. There was now a coordinating body for those political negotiations, and an effort had been launched at the national level to serve as a complement to the regional initiative. The world community should protect that peace process from any sabotage or adventurism.

He said that whenever peacekeeping operations were deployed, there should be a peace to keep. The principles developed over the last 60 years -- namely consent of the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defence -- should not be bypassed or reinterpreted.

Echoing that thought, the representative of Indonesia said that any attempts to redefine the conditions of self-defence in peacekeeping should be avoided, as the concept of self-defence had been "exhaustively" defined by international law, and was subjected to conditions of necessity and proportionality.

The representative of Nepal, which is among the top five troop-contributing countries and currently has personnel serving in 13 missions, said that even while those core values should be respected, the Security Council should "refine" mission mandates to account for the complexities and challenges of the field -- including by adjusting the rules of engagement for field personnel when necessary.

Other speakers said that due to the high number of peacekeeping missions deployed in Africa, particular attention should be paid to peacekeeping capacities on that continent. The relationship between the United Nations and the African Union, and other regional organizations, should be enhanced. Specifically, Algeria's speaker said the Organization should provide more information on its ambitions and intentions in supporting the Union. That would allow for a better understanding about the roles that the United Nations hoped to play, and would provide a framework for how a collective response could be made to Africa's needs.

Several delegations highlighted the contributions their countries were already making. France's representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, highlighted Europe's efforts to step up cooperation with the African Union, notably through the Africa Peace Facility. Japan's representative said his Government had provided approximately $2.2 million to launch the activities of the Chadian Police for Humanitarian Protection and another $15.5 million to support peacekeeping training centres in Africa. Japan also welcomed the formation of the African Union-United Nations Panel on Peacekeeping.

Pointing to one recent -- and significant -- non-African case, the representative of Brazil said that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had provided an opportunity to practice an integrated approach to peacekeeping. An important aspect of the mandate of that Mission, which had been deployed in 2004, had been the implementation of quick impact projects, which provided people with the "dividends of peace". Unfortunately, the recent hurricanes and the global food crisis had risked Haiti's recent progress, and she urged all actors to keep supporting Haiti and MINUSTAH in their quest for stability, reconciliation, reconstruction and development.

Picking up that thread, the representative of Mexico, who spoke on behalf of the Rio Group, stressed that such support should be given within established agreements on reconstruction and development, so that the Haitian population's immediate needs could be met and their widespread poverty addressed through a sustainable development lens.

In other business, the Committee concluded its consideration of peaceful uses of outer space by approving a draft resolution, as orally amended, without a vote on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (document A/C.4/63/L.2/Rev2). The representative of Colombia introduced that draft resolution.

Also speaking during the general debate on peacekeeping were the representatives of Morocco (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Cuba, Syria, Russian Federation, Israel and Fiji.

The representatives of Syria, Iran and Israel spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Committee also observed a moment of silence in honour of the 2,518 United Nations peacekeepers who had lost their lives in the maintenance of peace and security during the last six decades.

The Fourth Committee will continue its general debate on peacekeeping operations in all their aspects at 10 a.m. on Monday, 27 October.

Background

The Fourth Committee met this morning to begin its general debate on the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.

It had before it a draft resolution on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (document A/C.4/63/L.2/Rev.1). By that text, the General Assembly would urge States that have not yet become parties to the international treaties governing the uses of outer space to consider ratifying or acceding to those treaties, in accordance with their domestic law, as well as incorporating them in their national legislation.

By further terms, it would emphasize that regional and interregional cooperation in the field of space activities is essential to strengthen the peaceful uses of outer space, assist States in the development of their space capabilities and contribute to the achievement of the goals of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. It would also note, with appreciation, that some States are already implementing space debris mitigation measures on a voluntary basis and would further invite other Member States to implement, through relevant national mechanisms, the Space Debris Mitigation Guidelines of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, which it had endorsed in resolution 62/217.

The text would also have the Assembly urge all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space. It would also emphasize the need to increase the benefits of space technology and its applications, and to contribute to an orderly growth of space activities favourable to sustained economic growth and sustainable development in all countries, including mitigation of the consequences of disasters, in particular in the developing countries.

By the text's other provisions, the Assembly would urge entities of the United Nations system, particularly those participating in the Inter-Agency Meeting on Outer Space Activities, to examine, in cooperation with the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, how space science and technology, and their applications, could contribute to implementing the United Nations Millennium Declaration on the development agenda. It would also note, with satisfaction, the progress made within the framework of the United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER).

The Assembly would also, by the text, urge all Member States to contribute to the Trust Fund for the United Nations Programme on Space Applications, to enhance the capacity of the Office for Outer Space Affairs to provide technical and legal advisory services and initiate pilot projects in accordance with the Committee's plan of action. It would agree that the Committee should continue to consider, at its fifty-second session, its agenda item entitled "Space and water" and to consider an item entitled "International cooperation in promoting the use of space-derived geospatial data for sustainable development". It would include two new items entitled "Space and climate change" and "Use of space technology in the United Nations system".

By still other terms, the Assembly would also urge the Group of African States and the Group of Eastern European States to nominate their candidates for the office of First Vice Chair of the Committee and Chair of the Committee, respectively, for the period 2010-2011. It would request entities of the United Nations system and other international organizations to continue and, where appropriate, to enhance their cooperation with the Committee and to provide it with reports on the issues dealt with in the Committee and its subsidiary bodies.