Effective partnerships vital to reinvigorating peacekeeping, says top UN official

UN peacekeepers

5 August 2009 – A top United Nations official underscored today that effective partnerships are the cornerstone of the world body’s new vision for peacekeeping, the focus of a day-long Security Council meeting.

The so-called New Horizons process seeks to “reinvigorate the peacekeeping partnership,” Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the 15-member body at the start of the gathering.

Issued last month as a non-paper by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Field Support (DFS), it examines how such a revitalized partnership could boost management and oversight, he said.

“It highlights the need to strengthen command and control systems at every level, including through more robust accountability frameworks between Headquarters and mission leaders,” Mr. Le Roy noted.

New Horizons identifies three key challenges currently underpinning operational dilemmas for blue helmets: robust peacekeeping, protection of civilians and critical peacebuilding tasks.

“We urgently need to build a common view on the role of peacekeepers in these areas, how they are translated on the ground, and what tools we need to do so,” Mr. Le Roy said at the meeting, which is expected to hear from 40 speakers.

Speaking to reporters outside Council chambers while the gathering was still in progress, he said he was heartened by Member States’ support of New Horizons, which they said was “an excellent basis for further discussion and further strengthening of peacekeeping operations.”

For her part, Under-Secretary-General Susanna Malcorra, who heads DFS, said that her Department’s “overarching goal is to provide improved support services with quality, speed and efficiency, and we believe that there are clear opportunities to achieve these goals.”

In addition to New Horizons, DFS has issued another non-paper recently offering a “fresh approach” on supporting field missions, she told the Council.

That strategy, among other points, emphasizes “the need to protect our personnel, to ensure appropriate living and working conditions in mission, while maximizing safety and security,” Ms. Malcorra said.

Underscoring that “support is not an end in itself,” she said that “we must not lose sight of our ultimate purpose: to better serve those dedicated men and women charged with the daunting challenge of securing a fragile peace in war-torn countries.”

Also addressing today’s meeting was Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, Force Commander for the African Union-UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNAMID, in the war-torn Sudanese region of Darfur.

Challenges laid out in the meeting, such as deployment challenges, civilian protection and logistics support, “are at the very heart of UNAMID,” he said.

Deployment is one of the key obstacles, but Gen. Agwai said that by the end of this month, the mission will have 74 per cent of the 19,550 troops needed to be at full strength.

“Yet as the New Horizon non-paper makes clear, effective deployment is not just a question of total numbers on the ground,” he cautioned. “It is about the right types of capabilities arriving in the right sequence.”

At the end of today’s open debate, the Council welcomed the non-paper’s assessments and recommendations in a presidential statement, encouraging the UN Secretariat to continue provide planning and support for peacekeeping missions.

Further, the statement read out by Ambassador John Sawers of the United Kingdom, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, said the body “recognizes the need to weight the full range of responses when addressing a situation which may endanger international peace and security, and to deploy UN peacekeeping missions only as an accompaniment, not as an alternative, to a political strategy.”

Characterizing UN peacekeeping as a “unique global partnership that draws together the contributions and commitment of the entire UN system,” the Council expressed its commitment to strengthening this collaboration.


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