UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL REVIEWS PAST YEAR’S PEACEKEEPING SUCCESSES, DETAILS OUTSTANDING ISSUES, IN STATEMENT TO FOURTH COMMITTEE

18 October 2002
GA/SPD/244

UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL REVIEWS PAST YEAR’S PEACEKEEPING SUCCESSES, DETAILS OUTSTANDING ISSUES, IN STATEMENT TO FOURTH COMMITTEE

18/10/2002
Press ReleaseGA/SPD/244

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Fourth Committee

12th Meeting (PM)

UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL REVIEWS PAST YEAR’S PEACEKEEPING SUCCESSES,

DETAILS OUTSTANDING ISSUES, IN STATEMENT TO FOURTH COMMITTEE

Says Two-Year Focus on Reform Should Now Shift to Operations

Including Issues of Rapid Development, African Peacekeeping Capacity

The past year had been a very good year for United Nations peacekeeping operations, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno told the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this afternoon, as it began its consideration of the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping.

Citing the United Nations peacekeeping missions in East Timor and Sierra Leone, Mr. Guehenno said those operations had successfully overcome tremendous obstacles.  The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), which had closed on 20 May, had culminated in East Timor’s independence after centuries of colonial rule and more than a quarter century of occupation.  The United Nations Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) had contributed to the breakthrough for the disarmament and demobilization of over 47,000 rebel fighters.  The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH), which was expected to close at the end of the year, had also successfully completed its mandate in the area of police reform and restructuring, he said.

Mr. Guehenno said the past year had also witnessed the first new operation since the issuance of the Brahimi Report on peacekeeping operations.  As a result of the full institution of the Integrated Mission Task Forces (IMTF) concept, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) had been conceived differently than previous missions.  The mission had been innovative in several respects, including the bringing together of relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities under a single pillar.  Another innovation was the assignment of lead-nations for such tasks as army and police restructuring, judicial reform and drug control.

While the focus of the past two years had been on the reform and strengthening of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the discussion should now move to peacekeeping operations themselves, he said.  The recommendations of the Brahimi Report had been reviewed line by line and as a result, the General Assembly had agreed on the Department's main functions, priorities and structure.  While DPKO did not have the perfect organizational structure, one should not allow “the perfect to be the enemy of the good”.  Although the Department had not obtained approval for all of the additional resources it had requested, 184 additional posts was a massive injection of financial support, he said.

Six outstanding issues warranted particular attention in the coming year, Mr. Guehenno said.  They included rapid deployment; enhancing the African peacekeeping capacity; training; security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; comprehensive rule of law strategies in the peacekeeping context; and best practices.

Significant progress had been achieved in the area of rapid deployment, he said.  The General Assembly’s approval of some $140 million for the creation of Strategic Deployment Stocks (SDS) was a major step forward in enhancing DPKO's rapid deployment capacities.   Since the time that the funding had become available -- on 1 July -- DPKO had started requisitioning the material required to support one complex mission.  The procurement of SDS equipment was well under way and the Department would have enough stockholdings by the end of the year to support the start-up of a smaller peacekeeping operation.

Mr. Guehenno said he was extremely concerned about how the United Nations would manage to field another new robust peacekeeping force if called upon to do so in the near future.  "A perfect DPKO, or a perfect mission headquarters cannot substitute for the actual provision of contingents in a timely manner," he said.  The majority of the troop contributors at present came from the developing countries and they could not –- and should not -- be expected to shoulder the burden alone.

The Committee will begin its general debate on peacekeeping operations when it meets again at 3 p.m. Monday, 21 October.

Background

The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to begin its consideration of the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all its aspects.

The Committee had before it the report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations on the comprehensive review (document A/56/863).  The Special Committee notes there has been a surge in United Nations peacekeeping efforts during the past three years.  The Committee considers it essential for the United Nations to be in an effective position to maintain international peace and security by improving the capacity to assess conflict situations, by effective planning and managing of peacekeeping operations, and by responding quickly and effectively to any Security Council mandate.

According to the report, peacekeeping operations should not be used as a substitute for addressing the root causes of conflict.  Those causes should be addressed in a coherent, well-planned and comprehensive manner with political, social and developmental instruments.  The Committee notes Security Council presidential statements concerning the inclusion of peace-building elements in the mandates of peacekeeping operations, and stresses the importance of those elements being explicitly defined and clearly identified before they are incorporated into the mandates.

The report notes the establishment of a mechanism for strengthening cooperation of the Security Council with troop-contributing countries, complementary to the forms of consultations established by Council resolution 1353 (2001).  The Committee urges the United Nations Secretariat to continue its efforts to give comprehensive briefings and requests it to make special efforts to present timely reports, in order to improve the quality and effectiveness of consultations with troop-contributing countries.

The Committee welcomed the fact that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) had set five strategic goals for fulfilling the Organization’s peacekeeping mandate:  enhancing the rapid deployment capability for peacekeeping operations; strengthening the relationship with Member States and legislative bodies; reforming the Department’s management culture; reorienting the Department’s relationship with field missions; and strengthening relationships with other parts of the United Nations system.

Regarding management, the Committee reiterates its support for the creation of a position of Director of Management in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

Regarding strategic planning, the Committee welcomes the ongoing preparation of a strategic manual on multidimensional peacekeeping operations and stresses the need for the Secretariat to consult with Member States when developing guidelines and standard operating procedures.  It maintains its support for a strengthened Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit in DPKO.  That Unit should contain entry points for public information, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, gender, humanitarian affairs and safety and security.

Regarding rapid deployment, the Committee reiterates its recommendation that the Secretariat should continue to work towards the goal of enhancing its capacity to deploy peacekeeping operations within 30 days, or within 90 days in the case of complex peacekeeping operations, after the adoption of a mandate.  The Secretariat must have the capacity to start acting on personnel, material and funding for a mission, once it becomes clear that a peacekeeping operation is likely to be established.  Potential troop-contributing countries should be involved at the earliest stage possible of mission planning.

On personnel, the Committee supports ongoing efforts to enhance and strengthen the United Nations Stand-by Arrangements Systems and welcomes the efforts of the Secretariat to develop the concept of a generic mission headquarters.  It notes the development in the Civilian Police Division of a model civilian police headquarters and the production of generic job descriptions for 100 posts in the initial field deployment component.  The Committee looked forward to reviewing the recommendations of the Conference on Experts for the DPKO Civilian Police Division held in Helsinki, Finland, on 14 to 15 February.

The Committee, in its report, endorses the concept of the Strategic Deployment Stocks at the United Nations Logistics Base and takes note of the Secretariat’s proposal that the Organization should be ready to deploy one complex and one traditional mission per year.  The Committee is of the view that the Strategic Deployment Stocks mechanism should be ready to deploy only one complex mission per year by early 2003, with the possibility of expanding that capability at a later stage, and, taking into account the outcome of the annual review of Logistics Base operations, to include additional capacity for one traditional mission per year.

The Committee requests the Secretariat to maximize the benefit of recent increases in the military and civilian police personnel in DPKO through a recruitment process which ensures timely and efficient handovers between incoming and outgoing personnel.

Regarding disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, the Committee believes that effective programmes in that regard can play a critical role in peacekeeping operations and welcomes the Secretariat’s intention to include comprehensive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes in planning for future peacekeeping operations as appropriate.

Welcoming the Secretariat’s efforts at mainstreaming a gender perspective in the activities of DPKO, the Committee commended the Secretariat for developing a training curriculum on gender awareness and sensitivity for military personnel and civilian police and welcomed the Secretariat’s efforts in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) to conduct a training course for civilian staff on the impact of armed conflict on women and children.

Further, the report also underlines the important contribution that public information can make for the successful implementation of mission mandates.  The Committee recalls its request for strengthening planning and support for public information in peacekeeping operations.  The Committee requests the Secretariat to pursue its efforts, through closer coordination between DPKO and the Department of Public Information to improve its capacity to deliver coherent guidance for public information activities.  The Special Committee encourages efforts to revitalize the DPKO Web site, and encourages the Department to aim at redressing the imbalance among the six United Nations official languages. 

In the report, the Special Committee also reiterates the importance of the links between the DPKO and other relevant United Nations bodies, and believes that Departments and Offices which play a role in peacekeeping support should have sufficient resources.  The Committee also expresses grave concern about the growing number of acts of violence against United Nations and associated personnel.  It therefore stresses the need for host countries to take all appropriate steps to ensure their safety and security.

The Committee takes note of the entry into force of the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel and urges States that have not yet done so to become parties as soon as possible.  The Committee also emphasizes in that regard that status-of-mission agreements should include specific and practical measures to enhance personnel safety and security, based on the provisions of the Convention.  It also encourages the Secretariat to consider personnel security as a matter of the utmost priority and welcomes strengthening the Office of the United Nations Security Coordinator.

On the continued importance of enhanced cooperation with regional arrangements, the Committee urges the strengthening of such cooperation between the United Nations and various regional agencies and commissions.  The report notes that the Committee commends the efforts of the Secretariat and others on their initiatives concerning training and information exchange for effective peacekeeping operations in Africa.  The Committee also commends the establishment of the office of the Special Representative for Western Sahara as a coordination mechanism with other subregional partners in the areas of conflict-prevention and peace-building.

On financial issues, the report stresses the importance of timely reimbursements to support Member States contributing troops to peacekeeping operations.  Noting that questions surrounding that particular issue have shown marked improvement, the Committee stresses the need to ensure efficiency, propriety, accountability, transparency and cost-effectiveness of the procurement process.  At the same time, the report notes the Committee's concern that offsets have been made from contingent-owned equipment and troop-cost reimbursements by the Secretariat without prior consultation with the respective troop-contributing countries.  It is important for the Secretariat to adhere to the normal practice of consultation before applying offsets.

Under "other matters" the report notes the importance of ensuring that measures regarding peacekeeping and peace-building are coordinated in order to provide a solid foundation for peace.  The Committee also stresses the importance of formulating appropriate exit strategies for future peacekeeping operations.  On the issue of training and professional capacity development, the Committee notes that training is a national responsibility, and the aim should be to improve training standards rather than instituting uniform training policies for Member States wishing to contribute troops to United Nations peace missions.

The report notes that the Special Committee supports the new focus of DPKO on providing national and regional peacekeeping training centres.  The Committee also stresses the importance of reviewing DPKO training procedures concerning diseases that peacekeepers may encounter.  It welcomes programmes on combating tropical diseases, in particular malaria, and those that raise the awareness of HIV/AIDS and reduce risky behaviour among peacekeepers.  The report goes on to note the Special Committee’s recommendations on civilian police, entitlements, peacekeeping seminars and mission leadership.

Summary of Under-Secretary-General's Statement

JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the past year had, in many ways, been a very good year for United Nations peacekeeping.  The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) had closed on 20 May, culminating in East Timor’s independence after centuries of colonial rule and more than a quarter of a century of occupation.  Sierra Leone had also taken a critical step forward with a peaceful election and installation of a new government in May.  The United Nations Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) had contributed to the breakthrough for the disarmament and demobilization of over 47,000 rebel fighters.

The United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was set to end on 31 December, would be handing over responsibilities to the European Union Police Mission, after having successfully completed its mandate in the area of police reform and restructuring over the past seven years, he said.

The past year had also witnessed the first new operation established since the issuance of the Brahimi Report, in Afghanistan, he said.  Had the recommendations of the Brahimi Report been applied to that operation and had they proven applicable?  The mission had been conceived differently than previous ones, as a result of the full institution of the Integrated Mission Task Forces (IMTF) concept, which the Brahimi report had called for.  True integration had also been attempted, pulling together all United Nations relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities under a single pillar of the mission.  Another innovation was the assignment of lead-nations for such tasks as army and police restructuring, judicial reform and drug control.

Over the past two years, the focus had been on how to restructure, reform and strengthen DPKO, he said.  The recommendations of the Brahimi Report had been reviewed line by line.  As a result of that, and other reviews and evaluations, the General Assembly had now achieved consensus on the Department's main functions, priorities and structure, approving almost a 50 per cent increase in staff resources.  It was now for the Committee to decide what the focus of interaction should be between it and the Department.

He proposed that the discussion move from the restructuring and strengthening of DPKO to peacekeeping operations themselves.  While DPKO did not have the perfect organizational structure, one could not allow "the perfect to be the enemy of the good".  And while it was true that DPKO had not obtained approval for all of the additional resources it had requested, 184 additional posts was a massive injection of financial support.

Two very important studies would be issued in the coming week in conjunction with the second anniversary of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000), he said.  The studies would highlight both the positive and negative impact that the introduction of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers could have on societies emerging from conflict.  DPKO would remain actively engaged with its peacekeeping and humanitarian partners in strengthening disciplinary measures, in building and delivering appropriate training programmes and in pursuing means to ensure that a gender perspective was built into all aspects of its work. 

Regarding the status of recruitment, he said the provision of the additional 93 posts in 2001 had greatly helped the Department achieve the progress he was highlighting today.  The Department would have been even further along had the recruitment for the subsequent additional 91 posts authorized by the Assembly in 2002 been processed more rapidly.  The sheer number of applications had caused the delay.  More than 10,600 had been received in that round, nearly double the 6,220 received in the first round.  He was confident that the entire recruitment process for the additional posts would be completed by the end of the year.

He also suggested that the focus of discussions be on a handful of priorities, where a dialogue between the Secretariat and Member States was most desperately needed.  That was not to say that the Special Committee's recommendations over the years should be forgotten.  The Committee deserved a status report on the implementation of the recommendations, as well as the commitments undertaken by the Secretariat.  Such an update, cross-referenced with a status report on the implementation of the Brahimi Report's recommendations, would be provided in the next annual report of the Secretary-General to the Special Committee.

Six outstanding issues related to previous recommendations of the Special Committee and the Brahimi Report warranted particular attention in the coming year, he said.  They included:  rapid deployment; enhancing the African Peacekeeping Capacity; training; security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; comprehensive rule of law strategies in the peacekeeping context; and best practices.

Regarding rapid deployment, he stressed that significant progress had been achieved in several areas.  The Assembly’s approval of some $140 million for the creation of Strategic Deployment Stocks (SDS) was a major step forward in enhancing the Department's rapid deployment capacities.   Since 1 July, when the funding had become available for SDS, DPKO had started requisitioning the material required to support one complex mission.  The first few items had been delivered to the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy.  The procurement and delivery plan of SDS equipment was well under way and the Department would have enough stockholdings by the end of 2002 to support the start-up of a smaller peacekeeping operation.

DPKO had started to develop a new inventory management system (IMS), which would be functional by 1 July 2003 and would initially be installed at Brindisi, he said.  A detailed stock rotation and maintenance policy had been developed for all SDS commodities that required periodic inspections and maintenance or that became rapidly obsolete.  The policy would be implemented starting with the 2003-2004 budget cycle.

Materiel readiness was only one part of the equation, he added.  Rapid deployment also required putting the military, civilian police and civilian personnel on the ground quickly to establish an effective mission headquarters within days and weeks.  In that regard, the Brahimi Report had proposed the establishment of “On-Call Lists” of 100 military and 100 civilian police officers, available for call-up on very short notice, within the context of the United Nations Standby Arrangements System.  

Responding to concerns of Member States, he said, DPKO’s Military Division had identified 154 positions for a generic military mission headquarters and had prepared job descriptions for each.  From among the 154 positions, nine key positions had been identified to form the core-planning element of a military mission headquarters.  Member States had been requested to commit to providing a qualified expert to fill any of the nine positions, within seven days notice and within 14 days notice for the remaining 145 positions.  The On-Call List system for military personnel was complementary to a new “Rapid Deployment Level” in the Standby Arrangement System, which went into effect on 25 July.

The challenges ahead were formidable, he said.  The geographic base of participants for military personal for the “On-Call Lists” must be widened.  Unless the On-Call List system was used for the next new peacekeeping operation, the system would become no more than a paper fiction.  Discussions to activate the "On-Call Lists" for Civilian Police personnel must be intensified.  The Civilian Police Division, like the Military Division, had extensively consulted with Member States on the issue.  Civilian police positions for a generic mission headquarters had been identified and job descriptions prepared.  Although there was considerable work to do on the civilian side, the on-call system for military, civilian police and civilian personnel, as well the SDS, would gradually come on line throughout 2003, providing the Department with key elements to establish a mission headquarters within a matter of weeks, rather than months.

"A perfect DPKO, or a perfect mission headquarters cannot substitute for the actual provision of contingents in a timely manner," he said.  He was extremely concerned about how the United Nations would manage to field another new robust peacekeeping force if called upon to do so in the near future.  The majority of the contributors of Blue Helmets at present came from the developing countries.  They could not –- and should not -- be expected to shoulder the burden alone.  United Nations peacekeeping provided an avenue for a truly international response to threats to international peace and security.  That universality is a political signal whose potency was lost when only a certain part of the world participated.

There had been considerable focus on enhancing the African peacekeeping capacity, he said.  New developments in Africa required the Department to revisit the mechanisms it used to enhance that Africa's peacekeeping capacity.  Before making plans on how to offer assistance, there was a need to consult with regional and subregional organizations and capitals in Africa.  United Nations Secretariat staff, including from DPKO, had recently discussed possible modes of future assistance with the African Union and subregional organizations.  Further consultations were needed before a road map could be drawn up.  A number of ongoing bilateral efforts to train and equip individual potential troop contributors were already underway.  Those efforts must be harmonized, however. 

On training, he said a major factor in enabling interoperability was the promulgation of standardized training materiel and courses for use by national trainers.  DPKO had made considerable progress in that regard.  The Department, for example, was developing a Standardized Generic Training Module (SGTM) project.  DPKO’s Training and Evaluation Service had conducted four seminars in different geographical regions (Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific and Americas) and had shared the draft modules with representatives of over 75 countries and regional institutions.  Based on the feedback from all four seminars, the Department expected to finalize the SGTMs by the end of 2002.

Regarding security sector reform and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, he said that restructuring, training and equipping national armies was a role traditionally undertaken bilaterally, in parallel to the peacekeeping tasks conducted by peacekeepers.  Recent experience in Sierra Leone, the Great Lakes and Afghanistan had demonstrated that the convergence of the two activities could not be ignored.  The composition of a newly formed national army in the aftermath of war, in terms of its ethnic, religious, or regional balance was a

deeply political exercise.  Reducing its size from wartime to a peacetime army was closely linked to promoting good governance in general and must be approached from a political, developmental, and economic perspective.  A well-coordinated approach was needed.  The means to achieve that objective, however, had remained elusive, thus far.

Regarding rule of law strategies, he said a necessary companion to the successful reform of a national military structure was the strengthening of national capacities to maintain law and order.  The Special Committee had already reflected on the inadequacy of addressing police reform in isolation from the closely related human rights, judicial and penal aspects of the challenge.  The Special Committee had supported the Secretariat’s proposal to create a small new capacity within the Civilian Police Division for advice on criminal law, judicial and penal matters.  DPKO had recommended the establishment of a system-wide Task Force to avoid duplication and to maximize the comparative strengthens and expertise of all concerned.  The Task Force had been formed this year and had submitted a report in mid-August to the Executive Committee on Peace and Security.

Regarding best practices, he said it was his intention for the Peacekeeping Best Practices Unit to be fully staffed and functioning, including with a permanent Chief and Deputy Chief in place, by the end of the year.  It was essential that they establish a solid working relationship with the delegations early on, as they would be the point of entry in DPKO for a number of issues pertinent to the work of the Fourth Committee and of the Special Committee.

It was essential that best practices from previous and ongoing missions be reflected in all of the Department's planning, training and support for current and future operations, he said.  That means not only conducting “post-mortems” of terminated operations, but also capturing best practices on specific aspects, functions and components of operations.  It also meant serving as a catalyst within DPKO to translate those best practices into the promulgation of the necessary guidelines, manuals and procedures.  A chapeau for these various guidelines, manuals and procedures would be the forthcoming Handbook on UN Multi-dimensional Peacekeeping Operations, which would be targeted to all staff serving in peacekeeping missions as well as troop- and police-contributing countries, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations.  The Handbook, which would be completed in early 2003, would be a work-in-progress that could benefit greatly from the insight of Member States.

He said the Secretary-General would soon be announcing his decision to appoint Major-General Martin Agwai of Nigeria, the Deputy Force Commander in UNAMSIL, who will be replacing Major-General Gurung as the Deputy Military Advisor.  The Secretary-General would also formally announce his decision to appoint Major-General Cammaert of the Netherlands, to succeed Major-General Ford as the Military Advisor.  He was not in a position to inform the Committee of the Secretary-General’s selection of other Director-level positions, as the selection processes were not yet finalized.

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For information media. Not an official record.