20 March 2009
General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Special Committee on

Peacekeeping Operations

211th Meeting (Night)



Concluding Its Annual Session, Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations

Stresses Need for Clear Mandates, Resources Commensurate with Mission Adjustments

The sustained surge in United Nations peacekeeping activities across the globe called for, among others, improved capacity to assess conflict situations, effective mission planning and management, and quick and effective responses to Security Council mandates, according to the final report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, which concluded its 2009 substantive session this evening.

Adopting its report at the end of its annual three-week meeting at Headquarters, the Special Committee also expressed the view that peacekeeping operations should not be used as a substitute for addressing the root causes of conflict.  Such causes, the report continues, should be addressed in a “coherent, well-planned, coordinated and comprehensive manner, using political, social and development instruments”.  To ensure a smooth transition to lasting peace and development, further consideration should be given to which of those efforts could continue uninterrupted after the departure of a peacekeeping operation, it adds.

Further to its wide-ranging report, the Special Committee, which is charged with reviewing all aspects of United Nations peacekeeping operations, stressed the importance of providing such operations with clearly defined mandates, objectives and command structures, adequate resources based on a realistic assessment of the situation and secure financing in support of efforts to achieve peaceful solutions to conflicts.  The Committee emphasizes that when changes were made to ongoing missions, commensurate changes should be made in the resources available to ensure the operation could carry out its new mandate.

Among the reports’ other proposals and recommendations, contained in chapter V, covering issues ranging from safety and security to strengthening operational capacity and protection of civilians, the Special Committee strongly condemns targeted attacks against and the killing of United Nations personnel, including all criminal attacks and violence, such as carjacking.  Also condemning the restriction of the free movement of peacekeeping personnel in any way, the Special Committee urges all States that have not done so to consider becoming parties to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel and its Optional Protocol.

The Special Committee also notes with concern that some deployed troop formations are being stretched to cover geographic areas that exceed their capacities.  Such practices not only threaten the safety and security of those troops, but also adversely affect their performance, discipline, command and control.  To that end, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was urged to ensure that United Nations peacekeeping personnel were deployed in accordance with agreed concepts of operation and deployment arrangements.  Redeployment in support of evolving situations “should be done with the consent of the troop-contributing countries”, it adds.

Also according to the report, the Special Committee acknowledges that civilian protection is mandated in a number of United Nations peacekeeping missions.  While such protection is the primary responsibility of the host country, protecting civilians, nevertheless, requires integration of efforts at all levels.  Underlining the importance of a “comprehensive approach” to this issue, the Special Committee emphasizes the importance of ensuring full and effective implementation of Security Council resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) on women peace and security.  It also urges the Peacekeeping Department to continue to develop a comprehensive strategy to increase women’s participation “in all aspects and at all levels of United Nations peacekeeping operations”.

On strengthening operational capacity, the Special Committee takes note of the New Horizons Initiative –- an internal review of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support -– and encouraged those departments to engage with troop-contributing countries in that effort.  It looked forward to close interaction between the Secretariat and Member States in that process.

“A sound interaction and better understanding must be maintained between the Security Council, Secretariat and the troop-contributing countries to devise clear, unambiguous and achievable mandates,” the report goes on to state.  The Special Committee strongly recommends that the Security Council be fully advised on the availability of operational and logistical capabilities prior to making a major change to an existing mandate.

In the area of conduct and discipline, the Special Committee underlines the importance of continued and strengthened efforts to implement the policy of “zero tolerance” of sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping operations.  While noting the continued decline in the number of such allegations, the Committee regrets that the number of the most egregious allegations has not dropped, and reiterates that it would be useful for such data to be disaggregated by type of alleged serious misconduct to enable deeper analysis.

The draft report (document A/AC.121/2-009/L.3), which was introduced and orally corrected by Rapporteur Amr El-Sherbini (Egypt), will be presented to the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) and subsequently transmitted to the General Assembly for adoption.

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For information media • not an official record