UN peacekeeping operations on track for speedier deployment, Annan reports

Recent reforms have put United Nations peacekeeping operations on track for speedier and more effective deployment on ever more complex missions throughout the world, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report released today.
But even though the past year registered significant and positive developments, there is still much to be done by Member States themselves, the Secretary-General says in the review, which was requested by the UN General Assembly's Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.

"Once the initiatives now under way are brought to fruition, the [UN] Secretariat will have greatly enhanced its ability to deploy traditional peacekeeping operations rapidly and effectively," Mr. Annan says. "These initiatives will also facilitate the deployment of more complex operations... I genuinely hope that Member States will intensify their attention and response to these issues, particularly in the area of rapid deployment."

As of 1 January there are 15 active UN peacekeeping and related operations, with a total of 32,5000 troops, 1,180 military observers and 5,300 civilian police officers, as well as 3,672 international and 7,395 local civilian staff.

The Secretary-General lists a string of peacekeeping successes in 2002: establishment of provisional self-governing institutions in Kosovo; delimitation of the Ethiopian-Eritrean border; the birth of independent Timor-Leste; elections in Sierra Leone; progress towards a settlement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and the work of the UN mission in Angola and the assistance mission in Afghanistan.

The report stresses the importance of rapid deployment, noting that the Special Committee had welcomed proposals by the Panel on UN Peace Operations for a full deployment within 30 to 90 days of a resolution establishing peace operations, conditions on the ground permitting.

"Should a new operation need to be established in 2003, the Secretariat will be able to deploy it more rapidly than in the past, owing to the strengthening of the UN Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy, and the employment of new standby arrangements for civilian support staff," Mr. Annan says.

But whether the 30-to-90 day time-line can be met remains uncertain for several reasons, the report notes, including the existence of another concurrent mission, a lag in standby arrangements for civilian staff in substantive areas and, most importantly, Member States' political will to deploy well-trained and equipped troops.