Logistical Support, Force Protection, ‘Clear, Structured and Sustainable Mandates’ Backed by Whole Security Council Required for Peacekeeping, Fourth Committee Told

26 October 2009
GA/SPD/436

Logistical Support, Force Protection, ‘Clear, Structured and Sustainable Mandates’ Backed by Whole Security Council Required for Peacekeeping, Fourth Committee Told

26 October 2009
General Assembly
GA/SPD/436
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fourth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

16th Meeting (AM)

Logistical Support, Force Protection, ‘Clear, Structured and Sustainable Mandates’

Backed by Whole Security Council Required for Peacekeeping, Fourth Committee Told

Peacebuilding Situations Run as Peacekeeping Operations with Council Mandates

Are Confusing Exit Strategies, Which Must Be Tailored To Avoid Renewed Conflict

While applauding the heroism of United Nations peacekeepers, often operating in harsh environments, Fourth Committee delegations drew attention to a wide range of topics during their annual review of those operations, centred on critical operational aspects, such as the need for force protection, along with timely and reliable logistical support, an effective political process, and cooperation between the United Nations’ different organs and troop- and police-contributors.

Algeria’s representative stressed that United Nations peacekeeping operations must be based on mandates that were clear, structured and sustainable over the long term, and enjoyed the unanimous support of all Security Council members, as well as all stakeholders, troop-contributors, financing countries, and relevant United Nations agencies.  The launch of peacekeeping operations should not divert from the primary responsibility of the United Nations, which was to reduce the underlying causes of conflicts, he said.

Cautioning the United Nations against competing with the State in that connection, he felt that the debate on “robust peacekeeping” needed clarifying, as it was confusing and even raised suspicion.  At the same time, integration of post-conflict reconstruction into the initial strategy must not be done prematurely, since well-planned exit strategies were essential to ensure that countries did not relapse into the spiral of violence and instability.

Similarly, Nepal’s delegate worried that, in light of the complex nature of missions today, the continuum from peacekeeping to peacebuilding had “confused” the exit strategy for many operations.  In fact, some peacebuilding situations were still being run as peacekeeping operations, with Security Council mandates.  States should not keep stretching peacekeeping operations to peacebuilding and socio-economic development situations, although he agreed that they should not ignore the fact that conflicts could relapse, absent a sound transition.

Speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement as a whole, Morocco’s delegate turned attention to the protection of civilians and the use of force, which he said remained at the heart of the discussions.  Also, the unique nature of United Nations peacekeeping required that blue helmets undertake their duties under United Nations command and control.  Such requirements called for specific training across the wide range of all operational aspects of peacekeeping. 

Emphasizing the shared responsibility of Member States and the Secretariat concerning the training of personnel to be deployed in United Nations peacekeeping operations, the Movement called for more engagement from the Secretariat to support the capacity-building activities of the regional and national training centres of troop- and police-contributing countries, he said.  Recent actions by the Security Council and Secretariat to deepen interaction with troop-contributing countries offered a promising path in the right direction, despite some setbacks.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) believed that the provision of sufficient force protection and operational security must be supported by an effective political process, and agreed that, above all, by cooperation between the Organization’s different organs and troop-contributing countries, Thailand’s speaker said on the Association’s behalf.  Complex and integrated mandates, such as the protection of civilians and human rights, needed clear guidelines from the Secretariat.  Mandates related to security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and rule of law needed both operational guidelines and strategic guidance.

ASEAN also believed that peacekeepers should seek to engage in existing political processes and to address the root causes of conflicts, which was the only way to achieve sustainable peace and security.  And it emphasized the importance of ensuring peacekeepers’ safety and security.

Picking up on the link between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, Sweden’s speaker asserted, on behalf of the European Union, that a central challenge to effective peacekeeping was the need to strengthen the synergies between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, which relied on early action in the immediate aftermath of conflict.  Likewise, an early focus on capacity development required strengthening and deepening the pool of deployable civilian experts.  Further steps were needed to enhance the management of missions at all levels.  A wider consensus should be built for robust peacekeeping and civilian protection.

Furthermore, he said the Organization had yet to elaborate a strategic direction for United Nations policing efforts.  The New Horizon initiative (a non-paper of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support) was an opportunity to undertake further discussions on the roles and functions of police in peacekeeping operations.

Also with regard to the New Horizon initiative, Japan’s representative expressed strong support for the idea that operations should be established in the context of the broader political process and should have mandates consistent with the objectives of the missions and available resources.  It was important to make a clear distinction between what could be achieved by deploying a United Nations peacekeeping mission, and what could not.  For its part, Japan was contributing to strengthening capacity for providing high-quality troops through its support, including through the dispatch of instructors, for peacekeeping training centres in Asia and Africa.

Mexico also spoke on behalf of the Rio Group, and Jamaica spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

Also contributing to the peacekeeping review today were the representatives of Norway, Syria, Sudan, Cuba, South Africa, Israel, and Peru.

A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also spoke.

The representatives of Lebanon and Syria also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Fourth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 27 October, to continue its general debate on peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.

Background

The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to begin its general debate on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.

Statements

ANDERS LIDÉN (Sweden), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the new initiatives of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support were in harmony with the reform agenda set out in the French-British initiative and the Security Council presidential statement of 5 August.  To further advance the reform agenda, the United Nations Secretariat should engage Member States in a comprehensive dialogue.

Recognizing the role played by stakeholders such as troop- and police-contributing countries, he said that their desire for increased involvement in the planning and conduct of United Nations Peacekeeping was understandable.  The Security Council and the Secretariat, therefore, should further develop consultation procedures, including when deciding on new peacekeeping mandates.  Member States contributed different elements to peacekeeping, with regional organizations assuming an increasing share of the burden.  There should be a dialogue on how to conceptually and practically improve cooperation, and the coordination between relevant United Nations bodies should be enhanced.  The success of peacekeeping operations depended on active political support and guidance, and he said the European Union stood ready to assist.

Action on the ground was urgently needed, and continued steps were necessary to enhance the management of missions at all levels, he said.  It was also necessary to build a wider consensus for robust peacekeeping and the protection of civilians.  The opportunities provided by a “capability-driven” approach to peacekeeping should be explored.  A central challenge to effective peacekeeping was the need to strengthen the synergies between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, which relied on early action in the immediate aftermath of conflict.  Likewise, an early focus on capacity development required strengthening and deepening the pool of deployable civilian experts.

He said that the United Nations had yet to elaborate a strategic direction for United Nations policing efforts.  The New Horizon initiative (of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support) was an opportunity to undertake further discussions on the roles and functions of police in peacekeeping operations.  Additionally, areas of need, such as tackling organized crime, investigating gender-based violence, crowd control, and the use of United Nations police assets for “non-DPKO-led” operations must be identified. Although the Peacekeeping Operations Department’s midpoint non-paper was a promising basis for discussion of the logistical side of mission management, further discussions with Member States were needed to work out the proposed strategy’s details.

Women’s empowerment was a prerequisite for economic development and political stability, and contributed to durable peace, security, early recovery, and reconciliation, he added.  Impunity and the marginalization of women undermined the entire peace process, and the United Nations must step up efforts to address that problem.  The socio-economic impact of peacekeeping on the local economy must be considered, with due attention paid to the relationship between security and development.  Support to regional organizations, in particular the African Union, and capacity-building efforts were also important components in strengthening peacekeeping.  Further work was also needed to fully implement the recommendations of the Brahimi Report and the Peace Operations 2010 Agenda.

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that all operational aspects of peacekeeping were subjected to an extensive debate within the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.  The Movement, therefore, favoured a more policy-oriented debate within the Fourth Committee.  Expressing appreciation for the Security Council’s efforts to deepen consultation with troop-contributing countries through the mechanism of triangular cooperation, he said that any efforts and initiatives must be conducted in conformity with the basic principles of peacekeeping, namely the consent of the parties, the non-use of force except in self-defence, and impartiality.  Principles of sovereign equality, political independence and territorial integrity of all States and non-intervention in matters that were essentially within their domestic jurisdiction should also be maintained.

He said that initiatives of Member States should be streamlined under the Secretariat’s leadership, in order to synergize all initiatives and processes for a coherent and strategic direction for peacekeeping, which undoubtedly needed Member States’ support.  In that spirit, the Movement was ready as a major partner to engage in the debate regarding the Secretariat’s non-paper, the New Horizon initiative, which advocated for a new partnership agenda.  Since the New Horizon had been presented as an evolving process, the Movement would appreciate more emphasis on critical operational aspects, including military ones, to enable the Special Committee to lay down action-oriented recommendations to ensure better planning.  Along with the New Horizon, the Movement believed that the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations should also be engaged in the discussions on the Department of Field Support’s support strategy, in order to provide strategic guidance to assist the Department to reach its objective to serve the field in a more effective and efficient manner.

The protection of civilians and the use of force remained at the heart of discussions, he continued.  The unique nature of United Nations peacekeeping required that the blue helmets undertake their duties under United Nations command and control.  Such requirements called for specific training across the wide range of all operational aspects of peacekeeping.  Emphasizing the shared responsibility of Member States and the Secretariat concerning the training of personnel to be deployed in United Nations peacekeeping operations, the Movement called for more engagement from the Secretariat to support the capacity-building activities of the regional and national training centres of troop- and police-contributing countries.  It was time to seek innovative ways to translate intentions into action in connection with the wide consensus on the need for better interaction with troop-contributing countries.  Recent actions by the Security Council and Secretariat offered a promising path in that direction, despite some recent setbacks.

CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said that in order to respond effectively to the present challenges in peacekeeping operations, it was necessary to strengthen the coordination and interaction between the different stakeholders, such as the Secretariat, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the troop and police contributing countries, as well as the Security Council.

Noting that 87 per cent of military and police personnel deployed in peacekeeping operations were provided by developing countries, he said that reality required their imperative involvement in a meaningful manner, in all aspects and stages of peacekeeping.  Thus, it was essential to increase the levels of information exchange, coordination and proper consultation with contributing countries, in order for them to have a real possibility to express their valuable opinion before the characteristics of a mission were determined.  In that regard, the Security Council’s recent meetings with them, held in advance of the Council’s consultations, had been welcomed by the Group, which urged the continuation of that practice.

He reiterated the Rio Group’s belief in the need to guarantee the highest level of ethical conduct of the staff serving in peacekeeping.  He especially stressed the Group’s profound commitment to the Organization’s zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, and welcomed the progress made so far towards eliminating and preventing misconduct.  Further, he reiterated that the General Assembly was the appropriate intergovernmental body for the formulation and evaluation of policies and guidelines for peacekeeping operations.  Indeed, it was the only forum entitled to establish normative guidance in the United Nations.

NOPADON MUNGKALATON (Thailand), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), stressed that United Nations peacekeeping operations were crucial for upholding international peace and security.  In so doing, it was important for them to respect the integrity, sovereignty and independence of States, and to adhere to their three basic principles.

He said that in order for the operations to function in harsh environments, the Organization’s peacekeepers had to be capable of providing sufficient force protection and operational security, with timely and reliable logistical support. That had to be supported by an effective political process and, above all, by cooperation between the Organization’s different organs and troop-contributing countries.  Peacekeeping operations must also have clear and attainable mandates that matched funds and situations on the ground.  Complex and integrated mandates, such as the protection of civilians and human rights, needed clear guidelines from the Secretariat.  Mandates related to security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and rule of law needed both operational guidelines and strategic guidance.  He also emphasized the importance of ensuring the safety and security of peacekeepers.

Since modern conflicts were complex, peacekeeping operations mandates should contain an array of measures, including conflict prevention, peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction.  Thus, as far as possible, the shift from peacekeeping operations to post-conflict peacebuilding should draw on regional know-how.  On behalf of other regional Member States, he said that peacekeepers should seek to engage in existing political processes and to address the root causes of conflicts, which was the only way to achieve sustainable peace and security.  Those States also believed that security and development were interlinked and mutually reinforcing, which was why socio-economic development had to become a priority.  He reiterated the region’s support for and commitment to the Organization’s peacekeeping operations, since up to 3,500 of its troops were serving throughout the world.  Given the prospects of an ASEAN Union by 2015, he said that those countries were deliberating on creating a network of existing peacekeeping centres for joint planning, training and political purposes.

RAYMOND O. WOLFE (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating the statement with those of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Rio Group, said that, as host to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the only United Nations peacekeeping operation in the region, CARICOM welcomed the Security Council decision to renew MINUSTAH’s mandate for another year.  The long-term growth, development and stability of Haiti and the Haitian people was the common objective, and CARICOM remained committed to that goal, as well as to its participation in MINUSTAH, as it worked alongside the Haitian Government to consolidate the gains made in the areas of security, rule of law, and the promotion and protection of human rights.  Urging the international community to continue its support to Haiti as it attempted to build a durable stable foundation, economic recovery and development, he said that CARICOM, for its part, was assisting in a number of capacity-building projects in Haiti.

He pointed to the current trend of ever increasing demand for United Nations peacekeeping.  The complex nature of the operations, the growing numbers of personnel in the field, the ongoing challenges to manage the various actors on the ground, the challenges to meet the resources requirements of the various missions, logistical obstacles and the growing costs associated with United Nations peacekeeping were clear signals that it was not possible to continue with “business as usual”.  CARICOM was committed to engaging in all efforts that would improve the Organization’s ability to achieve the various mandates and lay a firm foundation for lasting peace and sustainable development in countries emerging from conflict.  It also reaffirmed the primacy of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, as the only United Nations forum mandated to review comprehensively the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all its aspects.  CARICOM hoped that the spirit of cooperation and flexibility that had characterized that body’s work during its 2009 session would continue, as delays could have a negative ripple effect on that flagship activity of the Organization.

Peacekeeping was only one of the options available to the international community in its quest for lasting peace, security and development, he said.  CARICOM had always firmly maintained the need for the international community to begin to urgently and assiduously address and, indeed, eliminate the root causes of conflict, poverty, competition for scarce resources, unemployment, and the systemic violation of human rights, to name a few challenges, as well as to develop conflict early warning and early response systems.

He said that, as the 10-year mark approached for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, it was becoming clear that many developing countries, including those in the Caribbean region, would not meet all of the targets.  That situation had been further exacerbated by the recent global financial and economic crisis, and the energy and food crises.  The devastation caused by climate events, most recently in South-East Asia, would also hamper efforts towards long-term growth and development.  Without the full implementation of previously-agreed commitments on the part of developed countries to enable developing countries to meet their development goals, through the creation of viable opportunities for socio-economic growth and development, it was quite possible that some of the most vulnerable countries might relapse into conflict and the United Nations would be called upon to “keep the peace” in countries that had previously been free from conflict.

MORTEN WETLAND ( Norway) paid tribute to those peacekeepers that had lost their lives over the last year and said that they should be kept in mind when discussing the future of United Nations peacekeeping operations.  Noting the daunting challenges facing United Nations peacekeeping, he cited the New Horizon study, which said that quality and capability should supersede numbers and that peacekeeping operations should be coordinated with ongoing reform endeavours, such as “One UN”, the review of the Peacebuilding Commission and administrative reform.  Protection of civilians must be at the heart of the New Horizon process.  A capability-driven approach with improved field support was required.  The administrative and support apparatus must become more flexible and the logistical system should be improved.

He said that Norway supported Under-Secretary-General Susana Malcorra’s efforts to develop a comprehensive field support strategy and would follow up on the issue in the Fifth Committee.  The role of partnerships should be strengthened and focus should be given to the relationship between peacekeeping and peacebuilding.  He welcomed the development of the body of norms protecting civilians, as well as Security Council resolutions 1888 (2009) and 1889 (2009).  Protection mandates must be clear and enforceable; leaders must know their responsibility and troops and personnel must be properly trained.  Unless people felt reasonably safe, economic life would suffer and development would cease or be reversed.  Humanitarian assistance must be protected and aid workers must be given access.  Additionally, the security sector should be reformed.

Civilian personnel often played a crucial role in protecting civilians, and must be deployed in a timely manner, he continued.  Protection strategies must include support to host Governments, which bore the ultimate responsibility for their citizens’ safety.  Further, Norway would be funding a strategic doctrinal framework for international police peacekeeping, which was critical to the effective implementation of mandates and to the safety and security of the Organization’s police officers.  On support to African Union peacekeeping operations, Norway was engaged with African partners in the Training for Peace programme and, in cooperation with its Nordic partners and the Eastern African Standby Brigade Coordination Mechanism (EASBRICOM), was contributing to military capacity-building in East Africa.  Peacekeeping operations must have a viable political strategy and a well-funded peacebuilding process, he concluded.

MOHAMED SOFIANE BERRAH (Algeria), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that Algeria was firmly committed to improving the functioning of United Nations peacekeeping.  The New Horizon non-paper was an important document, in which could be seen a clear and comprehensive approach calling for the transformation of peacekeeping into an effective instrument.  No efforts should be spared, or any possibility overlooked to tighten the framework of the international community and promote the principles of the United Nations Charter.  However, the current peacekeeping apparatus suffered from an “excess of ambition”.

He explained that structural and financial problems had increased, owing to the number and scale of the operations.  Many missions faced a “tense situation”, and were plagued by shortages of staff, finances and equipment.  The Organization should keep in mind that the launch of peacekeeping operations should not divert from the primary responsibility of the United Nations, which was to reduce the underlying causes of conflicts.  Thus, peacekeeping operations must be based on a mandate that was clear, structured and sustainable over the long term, and enjoyed the unanimous support of all Security Council members, as well as all stakeholders, troop-contributors, financing countries, and relevant United Nations agencies.  Missions must be able to rely on financial, human and technical resources that were tailored and sufficient.

With further regard to the New Horizon initiative, he said that the role of peacekeeping operations was primarily to support the actions of the national authority.  The United Nations must not compete with the State, and in that regard the debate on “robust peacekeeping” was confusing and even raised suspicion.  A clarification of that concept was therefore necessary.  Also, integration of post-conflict reconstruction into the initial strategy must not be done prematurely, since well-planned exit strategies were essential to ensure that countries did not relapse into the spiral of violence and instability.

MANAR TALEB (Syria), associating his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that peacekeeping operations had enabled the United Nations, during recent decades, to achieve important success and to tackle many challenges to its central role, which in turn, had enabled it to reaffirm its role as an important part of maintaining international peace and security.  Peacekeeping operations had a vital role to play in terms of security, mitigating tensions, creating peace and an environment that was favourable to strengthening peace after conflicts, among other things.  In recent decades, those operations, despite their complexity, had proven their effectiveness in achieving the various tasks given to them, such as monitoring truces and ceasefires, and the comprehensive management of zones.  Peacekeeping operations had been an important element in countering dangers to peace and security globally.  Peacekeeping operations deserved sustained attention, and yet, they should not be considered as a substitute for a permanent solution to conflicts; they were a midterm way to mitigate conflicts and create a strong basis for strengthening peace.

He said that a permanent peace required dealing with the main elements of a conflict in a serious and objective way.  The United Nations undertook its first peacekeeping operation more than a half century ago, in the Middle East, in 1948.  Those operations were still playing a vital role in maintaining peace by carrying out their tasks in a responsible and competent way.  Syria appreciated the sacrifices made by leaders and members of peacekeeping operations around the world, particularly in the Middle East.  His delegation also welcomed the forces working in the area of mine clearance and cluster munitions removal, and regretted the loss of those officers who had died while carrying out their duties.  His delegation was also concerned by the continuing inability of the United Nations to design a mechanism for dissuasion and accountability, aimed at stopping Israeli operations carried out against the international defenders of peace -- United Nations personnel -- in events that were either completely denied by Israel or recognized by it as being unintentional errors.  Such events were repeated, and conducted during the last three decades in a way that raised questions.

Despite the fact that the creation of a peacekeeping operation in a given area should be of a short duration, such operations in the Middle East had extended over decades, notably, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), because of Israel’s stubborn defiance of resolutions of international legality, as well as its escalation of tension in the region and its aggression against its neighbours, inter alia, in the Occupied Syrian Golan.

He highlighted other important issues, including the commitment to general guidelines for peacekeeping operations, the rapid deployment of recruitment for operations, and the payment of arrears by contributors.  In that respect, he underscored the need for peacekeeping operations to respect the mandate given to them -- mandates which were generally established in the resolutions that created the operations.  They must respect the Charter principles, inter alia, respect for the sovereignty of States, territorial integrity and political independence.  That required obtaining consent from the Government of countries on whose territories those peacekeeping operations would be deployed.  He also highlighted the need to design clear, viable mandates that were credible, through an institutional vision that was non-selective, in order to ensure the credibility of the Organization.  He also reaffirmed that the responsibility for financing peacekeeping operations belonged to the aggressor, which had required the operation’s deployment.  In addition, he underlined the importance of security measures.

KHALID MOHAMMED OSMAN ALI (Sudan), associating his delegation with the statement made on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement, said that the peacekeeping efforts of the United Nations would yield faster and better results if the Organization dealt with root causes of the conflicts, especially in developing and least developed countries.  Existing challenges were exacerbated by the effects of climate change, rising prices of food and fuel, the financial crisis, and spreading epidemics.

Looking forward to the success of the peace negotiations in Doha, he said that his delegation was committed to achieving a peace agreement in Darfur.  Leaders of the joint mission in Darfur had declared that the war had ended, he said, adding that the only continuing violent acts were confined to members of armed movements, tribal acts, and theft.

Reiterating the principles of the United Nations Charter, he said that there must be strict observance of the non-use of force except in cases in self-defence.  Peacekeeping operations must also always be carried out in a spirit of neutrality, and in such a way that protected national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and non–interference in internal affairs.  Furthermore, those who worked for the achievement of peace, and those who impeded peace, should not be considered equally.  National Governments should not be equal with illegally-armed rebels, and a national army and police force should not be treated equally with “thieves and highwaymen” who attacked United Nations forces and humanitarian organizations.

Peacekeeping missions could not work in isolation of the national authorities, since the latter had the primary function of rebuilding.  The participation of national authorities was essential, therefore, to prepare for the responsibilities related to exit strategies, which should be clear at all stages of the mission.

REBECA HERNÁNDEZ TOLEDANO (Cuba), aligning her delegation with statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Rio Group, said that peacekeeping operations had become the most-used resources within the United Nations.  Not only was the quantitative level of operations being increased, but the operations were more and more multidimensional and complex.  The establishment of new and more complex peacekeeping operations could not be a substitute, however, for responding to and solving the deep causes of conflicts.  A peacekeeping operation should not be an end in itself, but instead, it should be a temporary measure to create a security that allowed for the application of a long-term strategy towards sustainable economic and social development.  Otherwise, it would not be possible to overcome the vicious cycle of new conflicts and operations, with their high human and material costs.

She said that peacekeeping operations must strictly comply with the United Nations Charter, in particular, with those principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence.  Furthermore, the principles of consent of the parties, impartiality and the non-use of force in case of legitimate self-defence must be preserved.  Operations must have clearly defined and realistic mandates, as well as concrete objectives and the necessary resources for deployment and action.  Before approval and deployment, operations should also have a clear exit strategy, and arrangements must be fully in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter.  Peacekeeping operations should not supplant the role of the United Nations or fail to strictly apply its basic principles.

Furthermore, it was of great importance to continue strengthening cooperation between parties, troop-contributing countries, the Security Council and the Secretariat, she went on.  Although positive steps had been taken, that practice should continue, bearing in mind that the process must be more inclusive and active in all the phases that related to decision-making in peacekeeping. During the past 10 years, various initiatives had been undertaken by Member States and the Secretariat to develop and strengthen peacekeeping operations.  Along those lines, Cuba had carefully considered the New Horizon non-paper, and believed that it should be carefully studied in its entirety, as part of the work of the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.  Any initiative directed at improving the conduct of peacekeeping operations should be managed in a clear, systematic fashion, taking into account the results of past processes.

BASO SANGQU (South Africa), associating his statement with that of the Non-Aligned Movement, said he recognized the unprecedented demand for United Nations peacekeeping.  Those operations were an important contribution to international peace and security, and in that regard, he welcomed the New Horizon non-paper and underscored the importance of enhancing triangular cooperation between the Secretariat, the Security Council, and troop-contributing countries.  Effective coordination and better information sharing was needed among the relevant stakeholders.  The challenges facing peacekeeping operations should be addressed through a clear, multidisciplinary approach.  Protection of civilians was a vital part of peacekeeping, and the United Nations, along with troop contributing countries, should deliberate on the issue and come up with guidelines with which to assist military personnel, so that they could respond right away when faced with such situations.

He said that robust mandates should ensure human rights and the protection of women, children, and other civilians.  He also lent great importance to Security Council reform, as that would be an important instrument in building sustainable peace and democracy.  However, the “peacekeeping machine” was not a panacea for conflict resolution, but must be part of the response to underlying conflict.

DAVID WALZER ( Israel) noted that peacekeeping operations were growing in size, scope and complexity, while at the same time, there were shortages of personnel and resources.  The challenges made evaluating the situation on the ground and prioritizing objectives evermore important.  He reiterated the commitment for restructuring the Peacekeeping Operations Department into two entities.  In that regard, Israel was proud to offer its assistance to the Department and continued to explore new options for expanding its participation in peacekeeping missions, as the country had last year with the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG). 

Noting that Israel was no stranger to the difficult and delicate circumstances in which United Nations peacekeepers worked, he said the country remained committed to full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), and continued to offer full support to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in southern Lebanon.  He remained concerned about the ongoing trends to its north, as disturbing developments took place within UNIFIL’s area of operation in southern Lebanon and beyond.

The explosion in July of a Hizbullah munitions depot south of the Litani River in the village of Khirbat Salim had left no question or doubt as to Hizbullah’s ongoing rearmament, south of the Litani, he said, recalling also the explosion in the Lebanese village of Tayr Filsi.  After both explosions, Hizbullah operatives had sought to remove evidence and prevent UNIFIL personnel from reaching weapons storages.  In light of that, he urged implementation of resolution 1701 (2006), including full disarmament of Hizbullah and a complete enforcement of the arms embargo, with deadlines to dismantle and disarm them and other armed groups.

Concerning the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), he said that it contributed to stability in the region and was a successful peacekeeping mission, which continued to play an important role in stabilizing the Israeli- Syrian border.  Lastly, he extended gratitude to troop-contributing countries and the men and women of all United Nations peacekeeping operations.

GONZALO GUTIÉRREZ ( Peru) said that current peacekeeping operations had a multidimensional nature, including many facets, such as peace, security, development and human rights, among others.  In addition, all of those components were interlinked, and required an assessment on approach and conception, all the more so given the upcoming tenth anniversary of the Brahimi report, and at a time of new initiatives, such as the British-French proposal and the New Horizon non-paper.  All of those factors emphasized the need for debate.

He said that peacekeeping operations had contributed to preventing conflicts and providing stability and protection to civilians in areas where despair, violence and neglect reigned.  The spirit of solidarity and cooperation that was inherent in peacekeeping operations was tangible evidence of the commitment of Member States and the Organization to peace and security.  Aligning his delegation with statements made by the Rio Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, he said that peacekeeping operations were one part of the set of tools that the United Nations and Member States used to respond to peacekeeping requirements, as well as to international and regional security requirements.  Peacekeeping operations coexisted with the prevention of conflicts, mediation, and the work of the Secretary-General and the Peacebuilding Commission.  The complementary role of regional and international organizations in that process should be recognized.

The longed-for dividends of peace and stability were the objectives of any peacekeeping operation, he said, adding that the world was now facing development challenges, which included the need to more specifically define the scope of the mandate of peacekeeping operations.  That required integrated dynamic and consistent management of each area of the Organization’s involvement.  Highlighting the roles of the Security Council, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, and the Peacebuilding Commission, he said that Member States must promote the strengthening of those mechanisms and foster greater coordination between them, in order to attain greater efficiency and effectiveness in peacekeeping operations.  It was also imperative for the political and strategic visions of the main actors to converge to ensure stronger mission structures.  That, in turn, required sufficient human and equipment resources. 

NORIHIRO OKUDA ( Japan) said that in response to drastic changes in the tactical and strategic environment, peacekeeping operations had been given more complex and comprehensive mandates, in addition to their traditional modes of operation.  As for the New Horizon initiative, Japan strongly supported the idea that operations should be established in the context of the broader political process and should have mandates consistent with the objectives of the missions and available resources.  It was important to make a clear distinction between what could be achieved by deploying a United Nations peacekeeping mission, and what could not.  The initiative also sought a quality over quantity approach, which sought to achieve more effective and efficient operations within limited resources.  In that regard, he supported the Secretariat’s approach to engage Member States to review the complementary support strategy.

He said that protection of civilians was one of the most important, but difficult mandates given to the missions.  As was seen in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan, it was nearly impossible to cover vast areas with limited personnel.  In that light, the United Nations should consider combining various measures, such as enhancing the mobility of units, strengthening communications with local populations and establishing standard operating procedures.  Those procedures should include coordinating with humanitarian agencies and non-governmental organizations, as was done with the Joint Protection Team in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).  The capacity-building of military and police, and the establishment of the rule of law in host nations through security sector reform would reduce the burden on peacekeeping operations and make it possible for missions to leave successfully.

As the New Horizon also proposed, the pool of troop-contributing countries should also be enhanced, in terms of both quality and quantity, as that was urgently needed.  For its part, Japan was contributing to strengthening capacity for providing high-quality troops through its support, including through the dispatch of instructors for peacekeeping training centres in Asia and Africa.

AMRIT BAHADUR RAI (Nepal), expressing support for the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the planned deployment of contingents and enabler units to meet existing and new United Nations peacekeeping operations had met with enormous challenges this year.  The United Nations ability to deploy missions on time was under severe constraints, in the form of political, logistical, financial and managerial overstretch.  Clearly, that required fresh thinking in terms of devising better political, managerial and doctrinal strategy for making the best use of peacekeeping as a tool for maintaining international peace and security, and for solving conflicts.

He said that the New Horizons non-paper presented a new opportunity to strengthen peacekeeping operations in the face of emerging challenges, especially in coping with post-Brahimi challenges.  Since the 2000 Brahimi report, the non-paper, for the first time, had actually attempted to chart a comprehensive way forward towards solving many of the issues.  His delegation welcomed the non-paper as a first step towards meaningful discussions and building broader consensus among partners for effective, efficient and prudent peacekeeping operations.

Nowadays, peacekeeping was not just about “keeping peace”, he said.  It included activities, such as the protection of civilians, extension of State authority, building institutions of governance, and reforming the security sectors.  There were also challenges associated with charting the course of peacekeeping and peacebuilding, for which there existed explicit gaps in transition, in resources and in much-needed political support.  The continuum from peacekeeping to peacebuilding had “confused” the exit strategy for many peacekeeping operations.  In fact, some peacebuilding situations were still being run as peacekeeping operations, with Security Council mandates.  They were being run by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, whereas the Peacebuilding Commission was devising strategic frameworks for engaging all actors proactively in support of the countries in question.  States should not keep stretching peacekeeping operations to peacebuilding and socio-economic development situations, though they should not ignore the fact that conflicts could relapse absent of a sound transition.

MARIE-JEANNE EBY, speaking on behalf of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that civilians accounted for the vast majority of casualties in situations of armed conflict.  Under international humanitarian law, States and other parties to an armed conflict were responsible for protecting civilians under their control.  In that regard, the ICRC welcomed the debate on the role of peacekeeping missions in protecting civilians, since United Nations peacekeepers were entrusted with that duty now more than ever.

She said that peacekeeping missions could contribute to the protection of civilians in a number of ways:  using military capacities to influence the behaviour of parties to the conflict to spare civilian life; intervening militarily to prevent violations of international law; setting a good example for other weapons bearers to respect human rights; and actively contributing to the establishment of a secure environment in which humanitarian organizations could operate and rule of law could be established.  In addition, the United Nations and troop-contributing countries should, when necessary, ensure that measures were taken to punish those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law.  For its part, the ICRC had been sharing its expertise in international humanitarian law with troop-contributing countries for years.

Right of Reply

Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Lebanon said that while he had heard the Israeli representative express the commitment of his Government, maybe the “occupation Government” should match its action with words.  Israel continued to occupy Lebanese land and to criticize the UNIFIL commander for his proposals over the years.  Even after the adoption of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), Israel had, on more than one occasion, intimidated UNIFIL troops.

Referring to the explosion by Hizbullah, he said that, as Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy had informed the Security Council at the time, UNIFIL had been advised not to approach the site on the first day.  The explosion had been caused by arms that were remnants of the war by Israel in 2006.  UNIFIL, over the years, had been the partner of the Lebanese people.  As the Israeli representative had noted, it was indeed timely to have a timetable, but it should be one that would end the cruellest occupation witnessed in history.

Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Syria said that the contents of the statement by the representative of the “ Occupation Territory” represented lies.  The attempts to falsify realities were part of the desperate campaign carried out by Israel to divert the attention of global public opinion from actions it implemented daily in the occupied Arab Territories.  It seemed that the representative either did not know, or was claiming not to know, about the reality revealed in successive reports of the Secretary-General, which had reaffirmed that not a single case of arms trafficking had been carried out, and also in technical reports of UNIFIL, which had reaffirmed and criticized attempts by Israel to violate Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) by undertaking daily air raids.

What the Israeli representative said would not change anything regarding the fact that Israel had carried out the longest and most dramatic list of violations, as noted by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan in one of his press conferences on peacekeeping operations, Syria’s representative continued.  There had been attacks on United Nations headquarters and even personnel.  To date, UNIFIL had suffered 258 fatalities:  249 military personnel, two military observers, three international civilian staff, and four local staff.  More than two thirds had been killed by Israel in what Israelis had described as three decades of accidents, wrong firings, and outdated maps.  Those figures had been confirmed by Israelis. The remaining one third had not yet been proven against Israel, which had its own agenda to change UNIFIL’s mandate, thereby, trying to complicate the situation on the ground.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.