Secretary-General Kofi Annan promises major
reform of UN peacekeeping;
calls on Member States to provide funds, improve decision-making
Fully endorses far-reaching report by independent panel
UNITED NATIONS, 23 August 2000 Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged world governments to join him in implementing far-reaching changes in the structures and management of United Nations peace operations recommended by a panel of international experts, saying that prompt action was "absolutely essential to make the United Nations truly credible as a force for peace".
The Panel's report recommends, among other reforms: extensive restructuring of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; a new information and strategic analysis unit to service all United Nations departments concerned with peace and security; an integrated task force at Headquarters to plan and support each peacekeeping mission from its inception; and more systematic use of information technology.
Many of the proposed changes require political, financial or operational decisions from the United Nations Member States. For instance, the Panel urges the Security Council not to finalize resolutions authorizing large peacekeeping missions until Member States have pledged the necessary troops and resources; and recommends an increase in funding to strengthen the peacekeeping support staff at United Nations Headquarters.
In letters forwarding the Panels report to the General Assembly and the Security Council, the Secretary-General today said he had asked his Deputy, Louise FrJ chette, to follow up on implementing its recommendations, and to submit an action plan in time for the Assembly to consider it during this autumn's session. He also hoped the report would receive attention from world leaders, who will be in New York next month for the Millennium Summit.
The Secretary-General set up the Panel in March, after publishing two reports last year which highlighted the United Nations failure to prevent genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and to protect the inhabitants of Srebrenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in 1995. Saying "we must all do our utmost not to allow such horrors ever to happen again", he asked the Panel to make "a clear set of recommendations on how to do better in future in the whole range of United Nations activities in the area of peace and security".
Chaired by Lakhdar Brahimi, a former Algerian Foreign Minister, the Panel included members from all six continents, with wide experience in humanitarian, development and police work as well as military peacekeeping.
Among other key changes recommended in the report are the following:
Doctrine and strategy: The Panel calls for more effective conflict prevention strategies, pointing out that prevention is "far preferable for those who would otherwise suffer the consequences of war, and a less costly option for the international community than military action, emergency humanitarian relief, or reconstruction after a war has run its course". It says peacekeepers must be able to defend themselves and their mandate, with "robust rules of engagement", against those who renege on commitments or seek to undermine peace accords by violence. And it urges the Secretariat to draw up a plan for developing better peace-building strategies. Peacekeepers and peace-builders, it says, are "inseparable partners", since only a self-sustaining peace "offers a ready exit to peacekeeping forces".
Mandates: The Secretariat "must tell the Security Council what it needs to know, not what it wants to hear, when formulating or changing mission mandates".
Transitional civil administration: A panel of international legal experts should explore the idea of an interim criminal code, for use in places where the United Nations is given temporary executive powers (as currently in Kosovo and East Timor), pending the re-establishment of local rule of law and law enforcement capacity.
Timelines: "Traditional" United Nations peacekeeping operations (sent to monitor ceasefires and separations of forces after inter-State wars) should be fully deployed with 30 days; more complex peace operations, sent to help end intra-State conflicts, within 90 days.
Personnel: Member States should work together to form "coherent, multinational, brigade-sized forces", ready for effective deployment within these timelines; and should each establish a national pool of civilian police officers. The Panel does not call for a standing United Nations army, but says the Secretariat should establish "on-call" lists of about 100 military and 100 police officers and experts, from national armies and police forces, who would be available on seven days' notice to establish new mission headquarters. Conditions of service for civilian specialists should also be revised so that the United Nations can attract more qualified personnel, and reward good performance with better career prospects.
Speed and efficiency: The Secretary-General should be allowed funds to start planning a mission before the Security Council approves it, so that when approved it can be deployed quickly. Field missions should be given greater freedom to manage their own budgets. Additional ready-made mission "start-up kits" should be maintained at the UN Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy.
Funding for peacekeeping support: The Panel remarks that, after 52 years, it is time to treat peacekeeping as a "core activity" of the United Nations rather than a "temporary responsibility". Headquarters support for it should therefore be funded mainly through the regular United Nations budget, instead of the current "Support Account" which has to be justified year by year and post by post.
The report begins by saying that "over the last decade, the United Nations has repeatedly failed to meet the challenge" of protecting people from war, "and it can do no better today". It concludes on a more hopeful note, expressing the Panel's "shared vision" of a more effective United Nations in the future "extending a strong helping hand to a community, country or region to avert conflict or to end violence a United Nations that has not only the will, but also the ability, to fulfil its great promise, justifying the confidence and trust placed in it by the overwhelming majority of humankind."
Ambassador Lakhdar Brahimi (Algeria), Chairman, Under-Secretary-General for Special Assignments in Support of the Secretary-General's Preventive and Peacemaking Efforts;
Mr. J. Brian Atwood (United States), former head of the United States Agency for International Development;
Mr. Colin Granderson (Trinidad and Tobago), former head of the Organization of American States (OAS)/UN International Civilian Mission in Haiti (MICIVIH);
Dame Ann Hercus (New Zealand), former Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Cyprus;
Mr. Richard Monk (United Kingdom), former Police Commissioner of the International Police Task Force (IPTF);
General Klaus Naumann (Germany), former Chief of the German defence staff and former Chairman of the Military Committee of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO);
Professor Hisako Shimura (Japan), President of Tsuda College in Japan, former official in the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations;
Ambassador Vladimir Shustov (Russian Federation), Ambassador at large, former Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations;
General Philip Sibanda (Zimbabwe), former Force Commander of the United Nations Angola Verification Mission III (UNAVEM III); and Mr. Cornelio Sommaruga (Switzerland), former President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).