United Nations Peacekeeping Essential, But Success Not Guaranteed Because Peacekeepers Work in Most Demanding Physical, Political Environments, Fourth Committee told

22 October 2010
GA/SPD/462

United Nations Peacekeeping Essential, But Success Not Guaranteed Because Peacekeepers Work in Most Demanding Physical, Political Environments, Fourth Committee told

22 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/SPD/462
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

14th Meeting (AM)

United Nations Peacekeeping Essential, But Success Not Guaranteed Because Peacekeepers

 

Work in Most Demanding Physical, Political Environments, Fourth Committee told

 

Peacekeeping Chief Says Operations Create Critical Space for Revival

Of War-Shattered Societies, but May Not Achieve Blanket Protection of Civilians

United Nations peacekeeping was a dynamic and essential element of the international community’s response to global peace and security threats, but success was never guaranteed because peacekeeping, almost by definition, went to the most physically and politically demanding environments, and the process faced rapidly diminishing resources, overstretch and the need for greater consensus, said the United Nations Peacekeeping Chief today in the Fourth Committee.

Opening the Special Political and Decolonization Committee’s comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping in all its aspects, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy, in a detailed and frank address, said peacekeeping was cost-effective and a minute fraction of global defence spending, sharing the international burden of addressing conflict and providing critical space for war-shattered economies to revive and humanitarian, peacebuilding and development assistance to take effect. 

He said that United Nations peacekeeping possessed unique strengths, including its ability to deploy and sustain troops and police from around the globe, and to integrate them with civilian peacekeepers to advance multidimensional mandates.  But regarding the expectations of missions when addressing their protection of civilian mandates, he said when peacekeepers were deployed amid ongoing conflict across vast areas, it could not be expected that missions would achieve blanket protection.

The Committee was also reminded that peacekeeping was just one component of the international community’s effort to foster peace and security, he said.  Also important, said Mr. Le Roy, was the work in areas such as prevention, mediation and peacebuilding.  The border between these areas and peacekeeping would not always be easily defined, and did not always appear in chronological order.  Rather, they were conducted in parallel and were mutually reinforcing.

A new challenge to peacekeeping that had emerged over the past year, he said, was managing the effective withdrawal or drawdown of the Missions, having coped with an almost constant surge in the field for many years.  In May, United Nations peacekeeping had deployed more than 124,000 military, police and civilian staff in the field; that was an all-time high.  Since then, the numbers, for the first time in a decade, had started to decline, he said, citing as examples the missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic.  With that, “United Nations peacekeeping has entered a consolidation,” he said. 

He stressed the need for United Nations to continue to improve its flexibility and readiness to meet the evolving challenges of peacekeeping, since the Organization must do its utmost for those that looked to United Nations peacekeeping as their last hope for peace and security, even when the challenges seemed insurmountable, and stable peace seemed far away.

Speaking to activities of the Department of Field Support, Under-Secretary-General Susana Malcorra said that her Department had made some progress towards the goal of managing field support as a global enterprise with a professional, structured and systematic approach that could easily adapt to a variety of operating environments.  The Department’s vision for itself was to evolve from an administrative backstopping office, into a strategic resource management organization focused on policy development and management oversight.

She said further that the Secretary-General’s Global Field Support Strategy proposal would improve the delivery of logistical, administrative and technological support components to field missions, and would expedite and improve support for peacekeeping, including critical early peacebuilding, peacemaking, electoral assistance, mediation support, and conflict prevention.  The Strategy represented a fundamental transformation of how the Department delivered its services.  Equal importance would be given to ensuring effective oversight and responsible stewardship during the lifespan of a mission.

The Department of Field Support operated in an extremely dynamic global environment, and its support covered the full spectrum of United Nations field missions, she said, pointing first to Sudan.  In addition to providing support to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement there, the Department had contributed to increased logistical and technical support in anticipation of the January 2011 referendum; it had deployed more than 500 additional staff and was establishing a presence at State and country level that mirrored what the Referendum Commission would do.  The Department was also building bases in the deep field to accommodate electoral staff and police in support of the referendum.  Darfur remained a high priority as well, and deployment had exceeded 85 per cent.

Concerning allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, she said that those appeared to have decreased this year, but acknowledged that it was disheartening to observe that allegations relating to the most serious types of offences, such as rape or sexual relationships with minors, remained high.  In order to enhance transparency in reporting to Member States and the media, the Department had launched a new conduct and discipline website providing critical data on allegations of sexual exploitations and abuse.  Further, an interactive tool to view those statistics in a dynamic fashion was introduced last week.

While great strides had been made with regards to women’s involvement in peacekeeping missions, gender balance among civilian personnel remained out of reach, she said.  The Department needed to make further efforts to increase the representation of female staff, including introducing flexible working arrangements and improving the quality of accommodations in field missions.

Speaking on behalf of Non-Aligned Movement as the Committee began its debate on peacekeeping, Morocco’s representative said that peacekeeping, as the flagship activity of the United Nations, could not continue to be supported only by a portion of the United Nations membership.  All countries, especially the permanent members of the Security Council, must share the burden of peacekeeping and engage their troops in the field under United Nations command and control.  Additionally, former troop-contributing countries should be encouraged to “return to the fold” of United Nations peacekeeping.

Now was the time for peacekeeping to become a truly collective and universal undertaking, he said. To achieve that, the entire membership of the Organization should deal with difficulties stemming from deployments in hostile environments and difficult political contexts. As a group representing a number of troop-contributing countries, the Movement had proposed the creation of a new segment called “Triangular Cooperation between the Security Council, the Secretariat, and the troop-contributing countries”. That would allow for a more structured dialogue and interaction among those three actors.

He stressed that the safety of peacekeepers remained a grave concern, as was the issue of reimbursement on account of death and disability of peacekeeping staff.  Further, outstanding reimbursements owed to troop-contributing countries, which were adversely affecting their peacekeeping capacities, should be rapidly processed and repaid by the Secretariat.

The interaction between peacekeeping and peacebuilding was dynamic in scope — mutually reinforcing, rather than “separate boxes” — and synergies between the two should be fully utilized, he said.  Early peacebuilding was critical, and must be incorporated during the early phases of peacekeeping planning.  In order to have a seamless transition between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, it was necessary to lay down the basis for lasting socio-economic development.  To attain that objective, missions should incorporate early advice from and engagement with the Peacebuilding Commission, international financial institutions, and United Nations development actors in support of the priorities of the host Governments.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Belgium’s representative said that in addition to its substantial financial contribution, the Union continued to actively support and complement United Nations peacekeeping, particularly in Africa, and had deployed 24 military and civilian operations since 2003.

Due to the scale and complexity of the operations, he said that operations called for greater partnership across a wide range of organizations, particularly encouraging the efforts of the African Union.  Many challenges lay ahead in all aspects of peacekeeping, and he underlined the importance of fully implementing those decisions that were already taken.  The New Horizon process was an essential framework for developing peacekeeping, and he encouraged its continuation.

Noting that increased attention was being paid to the role of peacekeepers in preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence, he said, however, that the recent atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were a terrible reminder that more must be done to protect civilians, women and children.  Without women’s participation in the peace process, sustainable peace was not possible, he added.

Also speaking during the general debate were the representatives of Chile, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, and New Zealand, speaking also on behalf of Canada and Australia.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Monday, 25 October, to continue its general debate on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.

Background

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

ALAIN LE ROY, Under-Secretary for Peacekeeping Operations, expressed his sincere gratitude and admiration for the personnel in the field.  They put their lives at risk every day; they had left their homes and loved ones to provide peace and security to strangers in faraway countries.  Alongside them, national staff also worked selflessly in support of peace in their own countries.  Without their sacrifices, United Nations peacekeeping would not be possible.  He paid tribute to all those who had made the ultimate sacrifice this year serving peace.

He said that United Nations peacekeeping remained a dynamic and essential element of the international community’s response to international threats to peace and security.  It had unique strengths — in particular, its ability to deploy and sustain troops and police from around the globe and to integrate them, with civilian peacekeepers, to advance multidimensional mandates.  It could provide a security guarantee and the political and peacebuilding effort to help countries make the difficult, early transition from conflict to peace.  Over the past two decades it had proven flexible and had deployed in many configurations.  Success was never guaranteed, however, because peacekeeping, almost by definition, went to the most physically and politically difficult environments.  Serious challenges were faced, but peacekeeping had proven to be one of the most effective tools available to navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace.

Together, United Nations peacekeepers delivered and coordinated a broad spectrum of assistance, and it must be ensured that they deliver the most effective assistance in the most efficient manner possible, he said.  The collective task was to preserve, continue to improve and strengthen its qualities, and address its weaknesses.  The Committee’s timely debate was an opportunity to take stock of recent developments and exchange views on the way ahead.

He summarized key developments over the past year starting with his vision, as presented under the “New Horizon” banner of how to adapt to the requirements of today’s operations and further strengthen the peacekeeping partnership, while building on past peacekeeping reforms.  He proposed how to take the vision forward and concluded with an analysis of the way ahead.

One year had passed since the last meeting in this forum, during which he and the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Susana Malcorra, had presented their Departments’ short- and medium-term priorities of the New Horizon agenda.  Peacekeeping situations had a seemingly never-ending increase in demands and challenges, paired with rapidly diminishing resources.  Peacekeeping suffered from overstretch and the need to reinvigorate the peacekeeping partnership by creating a greater consensus on how to tackle the challenges ahead.

To respond to that, he said, the agenda focused on four main areas:  achieving greater coherence around crucial policy issues, including the peacebuilding-peacekeeping nexus and protection of civilians; generating adequate capabilities for multidimensional peacekeeping; making the field support machinery more efficient and cost-effective through the global field support strategy; and strengthening planning, management and oversight of missions.  Events over the past year had demonstrated the relevance of those priority areas.

He said that missions in Chad, Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, struggled to fulfil local and international expectations regarding protection of civilian mandates and enhance their response to threats from spoilers.  At times, effective mandate implementation was hampered by limited consent and differences within the international community regarding strategy.  The missions also sometimes faced lack of adequate capabilities and support structures to enable a robust response.

Meanwhile in Timor-Leste, Liberia, and Côte d’Ivoire, peacekeeping operations focused on planning the progressive handover of security to national authorities and transitioning to longer-term peace consolidation and development, with the support of the United Nations and outside actors.  Mandates of peacekeeping missions continued to emphasize early peacebuilding tasks, notably in the areas of basic safety and security and political processes, but also in other areas such as institution building, governance and economic revitalization.  Those were often interdependent factors, and peace could not be maintained without progress in all those areas.  That underscored the importance of a strategic and integrated approach to critical peacebuilding objectives in the immediate aftermath of conflict.

The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had been thrust into crisis after the devastating January 2010 earthquake, he said.  The international community’s response to the tragedy further underscored a series of challenges facing United Nations peacekeeping; the critical need for crisis planning and decision-making, contingency arrangements and rapidly deployable reserve capacities, flexible and speedy support arrangements and effective cooperation and interoperability with partners.

He said that other developments over the past year had demonstrated that the peacekeeping agenda was a moving target.  Having coped with an almost constant surge in the field over many years, managing effective withdrawal or drawdown had been a new challenge to peacekeeping over the past year.  In Chad, for example, discussions on the future of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) had started after the Government called for its withdrawal.  Special attention had been given to the continued protection of refugees and internally displaced persons, enabling the provision of humanitarian assistance in eastern Chad.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a new phase had begun with the transformation of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) into the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), following agreement between the Government and the United Nations that the drawdown be gradual and based on joint assessments of conditions on the ground.

At the same time, in more traditional peacekeeping settings, operations such as United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), and the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) continued to play an important role in support of peace and security, he said.  In parallel to field developments, a dialogue had taken place among the Security Council, the troop- and police-contributing countries and the Secretariat that had helped to shape the common agenda and strengthen the peacekeeping partnership.

He said that Member States of the General Assembly — through the Special Committee on peacekeeping operations, in the Fourth and Fifth Committees, and in the Security Council — had expressed their support for the implementation of the peacekeeping agenda.  The General Assembly thematic debate on peacekeeping on 22 June, marking the tenth anniversary of the Brahimi report, had also added many knowledgeable voices to the discussion.  Encouraged by that response and guided by the Member States’ feedback, there had been progress in all the four priority areas of the agenda.  The progress report on implementation had been circulated.

In terms of policy development, he said there had been good progress on developing a strategic framework to guide development of mission-wide strategies to protect civilians, as requested by the “Committee of 34”.  There was also a mapping of resources and capability requirements for the implementation of protection mandates and the development of training modules.  A strategy for critical early peacebuilding tasks for peacekeepers was under development, as well as a trend analysis on the inclusion of peacebuilding tasks for peacekeepers in peacekeeping mandates.  The strategy would focus on mandated activities in the areas of police, rule of law, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, security sector reform and mine action activities.  It would seek to help missions establish priorities for implementing complex mandates and sequencing their activities in those critical areas.

In addition, he said, work had progressed on the development of the Strategic Doctrinal Framework for international police peacekeeping, with the aim of enhancing the effectiveness of United Nations police peacekeeping through delineating standards for international police, developing capacities and engaging Member States.  A global effort to increase female policy peacekeepers to 20 per cent of the deployed strength by 2014 had also been launched.  He had continued a dialogue with Member States, including through regional conferences, gathering senior military officials, on the requirements to enhance the effectiveness of peacekeeping, including on how to deter threats effectively and when to use force in self-protection and in protection of the mandate.

In order to develop a comprehensive capability-driven approach, the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support were primarily focused on developing guidance and capability standards, generating and sustaining critical resources, and strengthening training, he said.  Within the capability-driven approach, the ongoing Formed Police Unit Review was the world’s largest, most comprehensive and in-depth police-related project.  Contributing to the efforts to address civilian capacity gaps, the standing policy capacity had been expanded and a standing justice and corrections capacity had been established, as well as a roster of security sector reform experts.

To ensure coherence, he said he was working closely with the Peacebuilding Support Office regarding the civilian capacities review.  The Secretariat was also looking into how to address the Member States’ request to increase its capacity-building coordination role.  In order to keep Member States abreast of critical capability requirements, he had over the past year circulated lists with mission capability gaps.  Within the process of setting common baseline operational standards for civilian and uniformed capabilities, a three-folded pilot initiative, regarding military components of peacekeeping, had been constituted.  It consisted of Infantry Battalion, Staff Officers and Military Medical Support.  The objective of the process was to bolster the effectiveness and interoperability of various peacekeeping components and enable targeted capacity-building support.

He said that implementation of the Global Field Support Strategy was also under way.  It would transform service delivery to the field, adapting to the requirements of today’s operations.  Support to the field would become more predictable, professional and flexible, while ensuring cost-efficiencies and transparency.

With the aim of strengthening planning and oversight, he said that a more comprehensive and systematic consultative process between the troop- and police- contributing countries, the Security Council and Secretariat had been developed.  That included the Secretariat briefing to Council Members and troop-contributing countries and police-contributing countries, before and after technical assessment missions to the field, and Secretariat support to regular triangular consultations between the troop- and police-contributing countries, the Council and the Secretariat.  Member States’ efforts to strengthen linkages between the Council and the troop- and police-contributors were also very valuable.  The Secretariat had also reviewed reporting practices to maximize the use of resources to inform Member States about developments in a timely manner.  To strengthen oversight, compacts had been signed with senior leadership.

In May, United Nations peacekeeping had deployed more than 124,000 military, police and civilian staff in the field, he noted, adding that that was an all-time high.  Since then, the numbers, for the first time in a decade, had started to decline.  The number of troops in MONUSCO had been reduced by 1,650 this summer, and MINURCAT would be closed down.  “United Nations peacekeeping has entered a consolidation,” he said. 

However, even a slight reduction in numbers did not mean challenges were diminished, he said.  While military numbers decreased, deployments were extremely significant, and one of the most complex operational tasks of the United Nations.  Moreover, the political complexity facing missions and the range of their mandates, including on the civilian side, remained very broad.  United Nations support to the referenda in Sudan and its continued support for implementation of the Comprehensive Peace agreement and the elections in Côte d’Ivoire, would challenge planning and additional capability requirements.  The demand for United Nations policing would not wane, and specialized capabilities would be in demand over the coming years.  That reflected the growth in complex peacekeeping operations, but also in increased complexity of tasks enshrined in the policing mandates issued by the Security Council.  Provided there were no unforeseen developments, more attention would hopefully be paid to the specific requirements related to the transition of peacekeeping operations.

He said that the picture painted last year at the launch of the New Horizon process was relevant.  The global scarcity of resources seemed to become more acute.  Financial and other national restraints had led to the withdrawal of crucial mission capabilities, notably, military utility helicopters, from some of the most complex operations.  The United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and MONUSCO were facing military helicopter shortages.

Concerning sexual violence against civilians as a tactic of war, the horrendous mass rapes of hundreds of civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo were not isolated incidents, he said.  While Government had the primary responsibility for protecting citizens, United Nations peacekeeping, together with other relevant partners of the international community, was addressing how to improve responses.  Regarding expectations that missions faced when addressing their protection of civilian mandates, he said when peacekeepers were deployed amid ongoing conflict across vast areas, it could not be expected that missions would achieve blanket protection.  However, every part of a mission must do its utmost.  That demanded that missions used all means at their disposal, military, police and civilian, to protect civilians.

In some host countries, limited consent by the parties to the conflict and restrictions on operations’ ability to carry out their duties had hampered the ability of peacekeeping operations to carry out their duties, he said.  Two examples of that would be Darfur and Chad.  Another disturbing development had been direct violence against peacekeepers.  Abductions of peacekeepers in Darfur, and the tragic attack on a United Nations guest house in Kabul in October 2009 were horrible examples of unacceptable violence.  He was working with partners to increase security of personnel.

The nature of multidimensional peacekeeping and challenges and threats faced meant that they could only be addressed if acted upon jointly, he said.  Today’s complex threats to peace and security required cohesive responses from a united international community.  It was important to keep in mind that peacekeeping was one component of the international community’s effort to foster peace and security.  Bearing that in mind, it would continue to be ensured that further development of the peacekeeping partnership took into account work in areas such as prevention, mediation and peacebuilding.  The border between those areas and peacekeeping would not always be easily defined.  Certainly they did not always appear in chronological order, but were conducted in parallel and were mutually reinforcing.

In the same vein, he said, the Department would continue to cooperate with regional organizations.  In order to prevent creating expectations that could not be met, they would seek to improve management of consent issues and ways to address public perceptions of peacekeeping’s role.  The mandates had become more complex and the interaction with the local population had increased, and thus, he had become better at communicating both with authorities and the population of host countries.

Facing the challenges, the current phase of consolidation presented an important opportunity to realize the reform priorities, he said.  He was acutely aware of the financial constraints of the international community and the high cost of peacekeeping.  At the same time, independent studies had shown peacekeeping was cost-effective and a minute fraction of global defence spending.  It also shared the international burden of addressing conflict and provided critical space for war-shattered economies to revive and humanitarian, peacebuilding and development assistance to take effect. 

He said United Nations peacekeeping was a unique and an indispensable tool developing through trials of fire and bursts of innovation.  “We must continue to improve its flexibility and readiness to meet evolving challenges,” he said.  “We owe the people that look to UN peacekeepers as their last hope to do our utmost in our continued quest to help bring them the peace and security they deserve, even when the challenges sometimes seem insurmountable and stable peace far away.”

SUSANA MALCORRA, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, said the Organization had recently suffered several tragedies that served as an ongoing reminder of the dangers and risks of peacekeeping.  Last October, an attack on a United Nations guest house in Kabul, Afghanistan, claimed the lives of five United Nations personnel.  This past January, the earthquake in Haiti claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Haitians and 101 United Nations civilians, military and police.  Others had also lost their lives in different missions around the world.  In honour of their memories, she wished to pay tribute to those who had made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of peace.

She said that the Department of Field Support, during its short existence, had made some progress towards the goal of managing field support as a global enterprise with a professional, structured and systematic approach that could easily adapt to a variety of operating environments.  The Department’s vision for itself was to evolve from an administrative backstopping office, into a strategic resource management organization focused on policy development and management oversight.  Internally, the Department had been working closely with the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Political Affairs to ensure that missions received the same quality of support.  Her Department had also been working closely with the Peacebuilding Support Office on initiatives such as the civilian capacities review.

Further, she said that the Department of Field Support operated in an extremely dynamic global environment, and its support covered the full spectrum of United Nations field missions.  In Sudan, in addition to providing support to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Department had contributed to increased logistical and technical support in anticipation of the referendum to be held on 9 January 2011.  For that task, the Department had deployed more than 500 additional staff, and was establishing a presence at State and country level that mirrored what the Referendum Commission would do.  The Department was also building bases in the deep field to accommodate electoral staff and police in support of the referendum.  Darfur remained a high priority as well, and deployment had exceeded 85 per cent.

In its assistance to Côte d’Ivoire, the Department was providing logistics and assistance, which was the “backbone” of the first presidential elections to be held in that country since the outbreak of civil war in 2002.  Those activities ranged from distributing ballots to constructing polling centres.  Similar logistics activities had also played a role in Afghanistan, and a similar process was beginning in preparations for elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which meant supporting 3,200 polling stations throughout the country.  In Haiti, a 24 -hour call centre had been opened to identify and repatriate the remains and provide assistance to the families of those who had perished, as well as administrative support to recovery and reconstruction operations, along with support for the Government through the provision of warehouses and tents.  That was all in addition to providing the necessary extra military and police units.

The Department had also assisted in the transition of Missions in the Central African Republic, Guinea Bissau, Burundi, and Chad, she said.  Closing down the Mission in Chad had required critical liquidation work, such as the repatriation of troops and handling of left over assets.  The Department also had continued its partnership with the African Union in support if its operation in Somalia.

Addressing the Secretary-General’s Global Field Support Strategy proposal, she said that represented a response to the challenges faced by the Organization to improve the delivery of support components, including logistical, administrative and information and communication technology to field missions.  The strategy was designed to expedite and improve support for peacekeeping, including critical early peacebuilding, and to expedite and improve support for peacemaking, electoral assistance, mediation support, and conflict prevention.  It was also aimed at strengthening resource stewardship and accountability, while achieving greater efficiency and economy of scale, and improving the safety and living conditions of staff.  The strategy should also help ensure efficiency of funds, in light of ongoing financial constraints.

With regard to deployment modules, she said the Department was proceeding on schedule with the development of Phase One of the modularization project, and that effective modularization would support greater predictability of support readiness, costs, risks, quality, skills, deliverables and the meeting of programme objectives.  The focus of the engagement with the Committee of 34 in that respect was on the operational and technical aspects of establishing camps in the field, including the deployment of enabling capacities with the physical material.  She recommended that representation from Member States should include subject matter experts on the operational and technical aspects of camp design and deployment.

Addressing the regional service centres, established to consolidate administrative and support functions of missions, she said that consolidation was currently in progress and being linked to the political and operational priorities of the peacekeeping missions in the regions.  The transfer of “back office” administrative functions from the missions to the regional service centres would create “economies of scale” as a result of consolidating selected functions into a shared facility.

Work was also under way on the Standard Resourcing Model, introduced to simplify financial procedures and allow an increase in working capital within the financial framework of missions, and work with human resource management reform initiatives, she said.  Such initiatives were set to provide incentives for seeking assignments to non-family missions where staff members, particularly single mothers, could not take their families.  While great strides had been made with regard to women’s involvement in peacekeeping missions, a significant amount of work remained to be done to meet the terms of Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security.  Gender balance among civilian personnel remained out of reach, and the Department should further endeavour to increase the representation of female staff, including by introducing flexible working arrangements and improving the quality of accommodations in field missions.

While allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse appeared to have decreased this year, she said it was disheartening to observe that allegations relating to the most serious types of offences, such as rape or sexual relationships with minors, remained high.  In order to enhance transparency in reporting to Member States and the media, the Department had launched a new conduct and discipline website providing critical data on allegations of sexual exploitations and abuse.  Further, an interactive tool to view those statistics in a dynamic fashion had been introduced last week.

In closing, she said that the Global Field Support Strategy represented a fundamental transformation of how the Department delivered its services, and it would give equal importance to ensure effective oversight and responsible stewardship during the lifespan of a mission.

LOTFI BOUCHAARA (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that United Nations peacekeeping was at a crossroads, wherein the scale and complexity of peacekeeping operations had reached new levels, posing serious challenges including the overstretch of the Organization’s capacities.  He stressed the need to abide by the guiding principles of United Nations peacekeeping, namely the consent of the parties, the non-use of force except in self-defence, and impartiality.  The Movement also stressed that the importance of maintaining principles of sovereign equality, political independence, and territorial integrity of all States, and non-intervention in matters that were essentially in a State’s jurisdiction.

He said that all operational aspects of peacekeeping were subjected to an extensive debate within the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.  Hence, the Movement favoured a more policy-oriented debate within the Fourth Committee.  As for the ways and means to improve peacekeeping, he said that operations should be provided with political support from the outset, as well as full and optimal human, financial and logistical resources.  Operations must also have clearly defined and achievable mandates and exit strategies.  That meant that operations must not be used as a substitute for addressing the root causes of conflict, but should rather be dealt with in a coherent, well-planned, coordinated and comprehensive manner, with other political, social, economic and developmental instruments.

In order to reach effectiveness in United Nations peacekeeping, it was important that the experience of countries providing “boots on the ground” was incorporated into the policymaking process, he said.  The unique perspective and experience of troop-contributing countries entitled them to full involvement in the planning process, in all aspects and stages of the missions.  The Movement’s first-hand experiences as troop-contributing countries and host countries would contribute to an objective assessment of where and when to deploy, and where to strengthen, where to cut or draw down, having peace and security as the main objective and indicator of success of a peacekeeping mission.

During the last session of the “Committee of 34”, the Movement had proposed the creation of a new segment called “Triangular Cooperation between the Security Council, the Secretariat, and the troop-contributing countries”, he recalled.  It looked forward to engaging in a more focused debate on options for a more structured dialogue and interaction among those three actors.  The troop-contributing countries’ base should be enlarged by encouraging those countries to engage, and for former troop-contributing countries to “return to the fold” of United Nations peacekeeping.  As the flagship activity of the United Nations, peacekeeping could not continue to be supported only by a portion of the United Nations membership.  All countries, especially the permanent members of the Security Council, must share the burden of peacekeeping and engage their troops in the field under United Nations command and control.

In that regard, he said the Secretariat should develop effective outreach strategies geared towards aspiring troop-contributing countries and former troop-contributing countries, which had left peacekeeping activities due to specific circumstances, he said.  Now was the time for peacekeeping to become a truly collective and universal undertaking, and to achieve that, the entire membership of the Organization should deal with difficulties stemming from deployments in hostile environments and difficult political contexts.

He said that the interaction between peacekeeping and peacebuilding was dynamic in scope; they were mutually reinforcing rather than “separate boxes”, and synergies between the two should be fully utilized.  Early peacebuilding was critical, and must be incorporated during the early phases of peacekeeping planning.  In order to have a seamless transition between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, it was necessary to lay down the basis for lasting socio-economic development.  To attain that objective, missions should incorporate early advice from and engagement with the Peacebuilding Commission, international financial institutions, and United Nations development actors in support of the priorities of the host Governments.

The Global Field Support Strategy was a milestone, which the Movement was eager to accompany closely in its development, he said, stressing that close consultations among the Secretariat and Member States, both in the Fourth and Fifth Committees (Administrative and Budgetary), was a crucial factor for the success of that Strategy.  More progress needed to be made in the critical areas of modularization, human resource management, procurement, and service centres.  In terms of human resource management, there was a dire need to provide United Nations personnel with clarity in terms of career management, since personnel retention was a serious issue in ensuring that excellence and quality remained the defining attributes of United Nations staff.

Yet while integration remained the key to success in peacekeeping operations, it remained a distant goal for many missions, he said. In view of the increased complexity of peacekeeping efforts, adequate training must be provided to senior mission leadership, in order to reach effective interaction among the various mission components.  The unique nature of United Nations peacekeeping required that the “blue helmets” undertake their duties under United Nations command and control — thus, the shared responsibility of Member States and the Secretariat to train personnel required more support and capacity-building activities of the regional and national training centres.

He stressed that the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security rested with the United Nations, and all regional arrangements should be in accordance with Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter.  The safety of peacekeepers remained a grave concern, as was the issue of reimbursement on account of death and disability of peacekeeping staff.  The Movement was also still concerned with the outstanding reimbursements owed to troop-contributing countries, which were adversely affecting their capacities to sustain their participation in the important efforts of peacekeeping, and he urged the Secretariat to ensure the rapid processing of all such payments.

JAN GRAULS (Belgium), on behalf of the European Union, said the Union strongly supported United Nations peacekeeping operations, which managed to meet an unprecedented surge in peacekeeping activities.  Peacekeeping had developed immensely over the last decade and today’s conflicts required an increasingly multidimensional response.  Due to the scale and complexity of peacekeeping operations, there were challenges ahead in all aspects of peacekeeping, mandating planning, implementation, and so forth.  The main challenge was to ensure that gaps between needs, expectations and performance were minimized.

He said that the European Union looked forward to this debate and would be fully engaged to work with all partners.  The ambition was to have real impact on the ground.  The Union also had developed a close cooperation with the United Nations; in addition to its substantial financial contribution, it continued to actively support and complement United Nations peacekeeping, particularly in Africa.  The Union had deployed 24 military and civilian operations since 2003, in line with the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  The complexity of peacekeeping called for greater partnership across a wide range of organizations, and he underlined the importance of developing those partnerships, and encouraged the efforts of the African Union in that regard.

Many efforts had been made to improve peacekeeping, and the European Union underlined the importance to fully implement decisions already taken, he said.  It was important to deliver on the ground.  The New Horizon process was an essential framework for developing peacekeeping, and the Union believed the reform process should continue.  In addition, it was supportive of the Global Field Support Strategy, to assure that the envisaged changes led to expected results.  He recognized the importance of smooth implementation of the capability-driven approach, and welcomed strengthening of police and civilian capacities.  He encouraged improved planning and oversight of the missions.

He highlighted areas of importance — first, in protection of civilians in armed conflict.  The 2010 report from the Committee of 34 contained important recommendations, and the Union supported their swift implementation.  There had been real progress, but more needed to be done.  Increased attention was being paid to the role of peacekeepers in preventing and responding to sexual and gender-based violence, but the recent atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were a terrible reminder that more must be done to protect civilians, women and children.  Without women’s participation in the peace process, sustainable peace was not possible.

The European Union believed that the requirement for peacekeepers to act robustly was consistent with peacekeeping principles, namely consent of parties, impartiality and non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate, he said.  There should be no confusion between a robust approach to peacekeeping and peace enforcement.  The Union was convinced that peacekeepers — civilians, military and police — must be able to contribute to the early phases of peacebuilding to overall stability by supporting national Governments to developing their peacebuilding objectives, backed by international partners.

He said that the Special Committee had an important role in developing and enhancing United Nations peacekeeping and in making sure there was follow-through on commitments made.  He saw room for improvements in that body’s work.  He recognized the role of those serving in United Nations Missions and honoured the sacrifices of those who had paid the ultimate price in that service.  In conclusion, he said that substantial challenges were ahead, but he was reminded that there was improved capacity to meet those challenges.

OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile), on behalf of the Rio Group, said that the current scale of peacekeeping and its central role in maintaining international peace and security made it imperative to continue strengthening the operational and organizational structure of the Missions, at Headquarters and in the field.  The perceived legitimacy of peacekeeping missions was essential to long-term efficacy.  And thus, it was imperative that they be conducted in full conformity with the United Nations Charter and with basic principles of peacekeeping:  consent of parties, impartiality, and the use of force only in self-defence or in defence of the mandate.  The legitimacy of peacekeeping depended on enhancing the coordination among different stakeholders.  Thus, the General Assembly, through the Special Committee, had a unique role.  The Rio Group was firmly committed to strengthening the Special Committee, which was the only forum entitled to establish normative guidance on peacekeeping for the entire United Nations system.  The Rio Group had been following closely the process of discussion on the New Horizon non-paper, followed by the document on a new partnership agenda.

He said that most of the military and police personnel currently deployed were from developing countries, and thus, they must be meaningfully involved in all stages of peacekeeping operations.  Better coordination among the Security Council, the Special Committee, Secretariat, and troop- and police-contributing countries was essential.  There should be adequate capabilities, clear guidelines, logistical and financial resources and the appropriate training so peacekeeping missions were able to carry out their mandated tasks.  That was especially crucial when complex tasks were mandated.  The primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace lay within the United Nations.  It was essential to guarantee the ethical conduct of all peacekeepers, and thus, there was a profound commitment to a zero tolerance policy of sexual exploitation and abuse.  He noted the adoption of the United Nations Comprehensive Strategy on Assistance and Support to Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by United Nations Staff and Related Personnel.

The long-term sustainability of peacekeeping depended on the capacity of countries who wished to contribute to missions, he said, welcoming the progress made in crediting reimbursements to Member States in a timely manner.  He noted the importance of the Special Committee’s discussion on all aspects of peacekeeping, including protection, safety and security and support to troop-contributing countries.  The Group also considered it essential that the Committee’s report adequately reflect that, for peacekeeping to be successful, the contexts in which the operations were deployed must be considered.  In order to achieve long-term stability, it was necessary to strengthen the strategic, integral and coordinated perspective of the United Nations field presence, not only in peacekeeping, but in terms of national institutions, reconstruction and economic and social development.

He said the Group reaffirmed its solidarity with Haiti, particularly after the earthquake that led to deaths of hundreds of thousands of Haitians and numerous United Nations staff.  It was determined to help Haitians onto the path of sustainable peace and development.  The United Nations should focus on the security of that country, as well as on social and economic development.  In view of the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections there, to be held on 28 November, he acknowledged MINUSTAH’s role in supporting the consolidation of democracy and governance in that country.

JIM MCLAY (New Zealand), speaking also on behalf of Canada and Australia, said that initial report card on the New Horizon non-paper — a series of wide-ranging proposals for strengthening United Nations peacekeeping mission introduced last year — was positive.  The more arduous challenge for the coming year would be to build on that progress and translate the proposals into more effective implementation on the ground.  Amid unprecedented challenges, the tools needed by those serving under the United Nations flag too often fell short of what was required.

Nevertheless, he said, in communities from Dili to Darfur, from Kosovo to Kibua, peacekeeping operations continued to provide the world’s most conflict-ravaged societies with the prospects of safer and more prosperous futures.  Nowhere was that more true than in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where United Nations troop presence since 1999 provided a framework for beginning the long task of rebuilding after a 15 -year conflict, remnants of which persisted.

Those examples underlined the importance of ensuring that United Nations missions were provided with sufficient guidance on how to protect civilian populations, he said.  Hopefully, recent progress in that area would provide a solid foundation for enhanced mission planning and for the elaboration of guidelines to assist troops and mission leadership in the field.  Peacekeepers were tasked to protect civilians in more than half of all United Nations-led missions.  Further work was required to reach a common understanding of what was expected and to manage those expectations.  Despite normative advances in civilian protection, work remained to be done.

Missions must also be capable of adapting their activities to complex operational realities; they must be flexible and must address sexual and gender-based violence, he continued.  The Secretary-General’s appointment of a Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict was an importance step towards promoting accountability in the United Nations approach to that issue.  A sustainable peace required the development of effective and stable domestic institutions capable of protecting citizens against acts of criminality and violence, with the ultimate responsibility resting with the State.  However, the international community had an obligation to assist in those regions that lacked sufficient resources.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo was among the many environments in which the fundamental importance of fostering effective rule of law was clear, he said.  However, areas that required capacity-building, such as the United Nations Missions in Haiti and Timor-Leste, required mission planning from the earliest stages.  Steps strengthening the United Nations ability to provide assistance must continue.  It was imperative to improve the United Nations ability to rapidly source personnel, to provide peacekeepers with effective support arrangements and to recognize the importance of the partnership between the international community and the Governments of the countries that hosted United Nations missions.

In the coming year, he said the specific question of how the United Nations and host Governments could responsibly manage the drawdown of a mission must be addressed, as well as the management of the compact between the international community and hosting Governments.  The various proposals the Committee had before it was a rare opportunity to strengthen United Nations peacekeeping policy and practice, and to bring the Organization and its members another step closer to realizing its potential and achieving the lofty goals set by its Member States.  It was incumbent to approach the discussions in a spirit of cautious, but constructive, engagement to implement measures that would benefit operations on the ground.  “The brave men and women who serve under the United Nations flag, and the vulnerable communities they seek to protect, deserve nothing less,” he said.

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