United Nations Peace Operations: Year in Review 2004

VII. Peace Operations facts and figures

Excerpts from speeches by Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno:

Statement to the UN General Assembly's Fourth (Special Political and Decolonization) Committee,

25 October 2004

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations
Jean-Marie Guéhenno

Peacekeeping is again at a crossroads. In August 2005, it will be five years since the Brahimi process was launched. That milestone leads all of us to reflect on some fairly fundamental questions. To what degree has the world of peacekeeping changed since then? What will the next five years hold for UN peacekeeping and what might that imply for the types of capacities the UN system should begin to build now in order to be prepared?

These are the big questions that we in the Secretariat need to begin discussing with Member States, and they with one another…. The report of the High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change will certainly contribute significantly to that discussion. I would like to inject a few personal reflections on certain trends and realities that appear to be dominating the peacekeeping terrain.

First, the peacekeeping demands throughout the world today exceed what the UN or any other regional or subregional organization, by itself, can meet. From the UN’s perspective it is very welcome that a growing number of international organizations and actors are engaging in post-conflict work. Regional and sub-regional organizations should equally welcome continued investment in the UN’s capacity for peacekeeping. After all, the fact that DPKO has reached a total of 17 operations now, with more potentially on the horizon, is ample confirmation of the fact that the UN peacekeeping remains indispensable. The universality of the UN continues to offer UN peacekeepers a unique legitimacy. And UN peacekeeping has built up – over decades of hard-won experience – a formidable degree of expertise and some unique capabilities.

Second, if the current demand for UN peacekeeping will remain roughly constant over the next five years, concurrent with the demand for non-UN run operations, then we are going to face a serious deficit in the field.There is a need to take a very serious look at the total pool of financial resources – military, civilians, and police – available for postconflict work; and, to agree on reliable bases for their allocation to UN and other operations.

Third, that there will be demands for peacekeeping is one of the few things in this business that is predictable. As for the rest, we should be prepared to expect the unexpected. We need to equip ourselves for nimble, competent, quick and flexible response.…Moreover, though we are learning lessons and codifying best practices, we must also recognize that all the operations we mount face unique political, economic, social and security challenges, with different mandates and a different array of partners and spoilers…

Fourth, the complexity of post-conflict transitions means that our operations must advance concurrently on many tracks – political, humanitarian, development, human rights and security – often in high risk environments. Many of their tasks are peace building, as much as peacekeeping, and so our integrated peace operations must be linked to longer term peace-building and development approaches.

These realities present us with some difficult dilemmas. Should UN peace operations work at the scale that is currently demanded? Are the resources available? What more is needed to strengthen them? Or should UN peace operations focus on a more limited number of niche tasks? And if that, how else do we meet the whole range of needs on the ground?

At least two areas are crying out to be addressed as a priority in the coming year. The first concerns the processes by which we get the right capabilities – troops, the specialized components, the police, the civilians – on the ground in time to implement the mandates of peace operations. The second relates to how these capabilities are best organized and deployed; how we integrate and rationalize the joint efforts of the UN system and the rest of the international community to assist the consolidation of a sustainable peace.

Statement to the Security Council,
28 October 2004

To stop these [sexual exploitation and abuse] abhorrent acts, the UN system needs to work hand-in-hand with Member States...Disciplinary directives for civilian, military and civilian police personnel have been compiled [by DPKO]. Training materials on the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation have been designed. And, Focal Points on this issue have been created in several peacekeeping missions. This issue is being taken seriously in the Department, but it must and will be given even greater priority in the coming year. Our work cannot be considered complete on this front for as long as sexual exploitation or abuse is being committed by a single peacekeeper or humanitarian worker. Even one incident is unacceptable.

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