Security Council Briefed by Force Commanders of Missions in Liberia, Sudan, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Middle East Truce Supervision Organization

6 August 2010
SC/10006

Security Council Briefed by Force Commanders of Missions in Liberia, Sudan, Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Middle East Truce Supervision Organization

6 August 2010
Security Council
SC/10006
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6370th Meeting (AM)

Security Council Briefed by Force Commanders of Missions in Liberia, Sudan, Haiti,

Democratic Republic of Congo, Middle East Truce Supervision Organization

 

Peacekeeping Head, Introducing Discussion, Says Peacekeeping Surge Has Reached

Plateau, Priority Now on Consolidation of Existing Missions, Accelerating Reform

The expansive “surge” of United Nations peacekeeping of past years had reached a plateau and the priority now was consolidation of existing missions and accelerating reforms, the Under-Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations said today, as he introduced briefings by five Force Commanders to the Security Council.

Alain Le Roy stressed that with over 120,000 peacekeepers were deployed around the world, demand was still high and, with a need to meet the urgent challenge of protecting civilians, greater effectiveness was crucial, as he kicked off the latest in a series of discussions that had followed the Council’s pledge in a presidential statement of last August(S/PRST/2009/24) to hold more regular briefings by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support (see Background).

At today’s briefing, Mr. Le Roy was joined by Lieutenant-General Sikander Afzal, Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL); Major-General Babacar Gaye, Force Commander of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); and Major-General Moses Bisong Obi, Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS).

Also briefing the Council was Major-General Robert Mood, Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO); and Major-General Luiz Guilherme Paul Cruz, Force Commander of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).  Lieutenant-General Chikadibia Obiakor, Military Advisor for Peacekeeping Operations, also attended the meeting, and was available for questions.

The Force Commanders gave a brief survey of developments concerning their missions as well as an overview of current deployment.  They also laid out the challenges ahead and shared lessons learned.  Some described gaps in the resources they needed to fulfil the tasks that had been assigned to them.

Lieutenant General Gaye spoke extensively about the problems in protecting civilians, his mission’s current priority, stressing that it was a task “more difficult than it sounds”.  It was a task particularly difficult to perform in conflict areas that were geographically vast and involved national partners and many armed factions.  He described some of the tactics his mission was developing to cope with those challenges.

Following those briefings, Council Members and troop-contributing countries took the floor to express a wide range of views on peacekeeping, touching on the challenges of specific missions and peacekeeping in general, particularly in relationship to complex, robust mandates that involved the protection of civilians. 

Many stressed the ongoing need to address the gap between mandated activity and available resources, as well as the need for clear guidance from the Security Council in the form of clear mandates and ongoing consultation with mission leaders and troop contributing countries.

Brazil’s representative said that the presence of Force Commanders in the Council today brought to the fore an obvious but fundamental truth:  “peacekeeping happens on the ground.”  Mission leaders must be trusted and not micromanaged, but the Council could and should give them the strategic guidance and multifaceted support they needed, especially in the critical but daunting area of protection of civilians. 

The representative of Pakistan, on the other hand, said that, although communication with mission leaders and troop contributing countries was essential, it was important to recognize that the Council was responsible for conceiving, drafting and adopting complex mandates.  He also would have liked to have had the format of today’s discussion more interactive.

Following that discussion, Force Commanders answered questions that had been posed by delegates.  In addition to those who had briefed the Council, participants included Major-General Abdul Hafiz of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and Elhadji Mouhamadou Kandji of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT).

Also making statements today were the representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gabon, Austria, Nigeria, Mexico, Japan, France, Uganda, United States, China, United Kingdom, Lebanon, Turkey, Russian Federation, Canada, India, Philippines, Republic of Korea and Bangladesh.

The meeting was opened at 10:05 a.m. and closed at 2:05 p.m.

Background

In its discussion of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations this morning, the Council was following up on commitments made in a presidential statement last August (S/PRST/2009/24), in which it pledged to conduct briefings from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Department of Field Support (DFS) on a regular basis, among other means proposed to improve its oversight of peacekeeping. 

In that context, the Under-Secretary-General of Peacekeeping, Alain Le Roy, and the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Susanna Malcorra, briefed Council members on 17 February 2010.  Earlier that same month, the French presidency held a debate on transition and exit strategies in peacekeeping.

On 27 May the Council held consultations on peacekeeping under the Lebanese Presidency, before which Council members were offered the opportunity to provide questions for Mr. Le Roy and Ms. Malcorra.  Peacekeeping was also discussed during the Council’s June retreat in Istanbul.

Statements

ALAIN LE ROY, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, thanked the Council for its continued commitment to peacekeeping and affirmed the importance of hearing directly from Force Commanders of peacekeeping operations.  He noted that there was a range of operations represented at today’s meeting, from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), the earliest operation, to the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), which had a newly revised mandate. 

He said that, despite the draw-downs in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), there were still over 120,000 peacekeepers deployed around the world, including 84,000 military, 34,000 police and 22,000 civilians.  Peacekeeping had moved from a period of surge to one of consolidation and improving efficiency in all areas, as well as the acceleration of the “New Horizons” reform agenda.  The review report of those reforms would be released in September, he noted.  He concluded by paying tribute to Lieutenant-General Chikadibia Obiakor, Military Advisor for Peacekeeping Operations, who was leaving his position shortly.

Lieutenant General SIKANDER AFZAL, Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), recalling that Liberia was emerging from devastation caused by 14 years of civil war, said the Government was taking the rights steps for improving infrastructure, governance and peoples’ well-being.  Although the country was generally calm, unemployment and poverty were hampering development.  The greatest challenge for the Government was dealing with criminality.  Linked to that was the problem of maintaining internal security, given peoples’ lack of confidence in the police and judicial system.  “Mob justice” required intervention by UNMIL, while land disputes were a legacy of war.

For its part, UNMIL had completed stage three of its drawdown, he said, noting that there were now 8,102 military personnel, down from 14,141 troops, representing 43 troop-contributing countries, as of 15 September 2009.  As a result, it had grown difficult to maintain a presence in all districts, and the Mission had increased the number of extended long distance patrols from air and road.  Reaction time to deal with unforeseen situations had also increased.

Lessons learned in the last year had helped to make the crisis management mechanisms more effective.  He said steps had been taken to improve joint military police cooperation in the shape of “table top” exercises on the ground, while on the crisis management side, a formal crisis management team and crisis management working group had been established in the Mission’s headquarters.

As for upcoming challenges, he said support for the 2011 national elections was expected to place a huge burden on the Mission in dealing with potential volatility.  Budgetary constraints, resulting from the drawdown, were also a challenge, as was the transition of security tasks from the Mission to the Government.  The Mission’s exit strategy envisaged a final drawdown, when Liberia had a self-sustaining security sector.  Significant progress had been made, but slow progress in security sector reform, the absence of police infrastructure and weak capacity of the criminal justice sector posed huge challenges to the transition process.

Indeed, the calm situation was mainly due to the Mission’s deterrence efforts, he said.  Rapid withdrawal of the force after the elections, without building the security sector’s capacity, held the potential for the country to slip into internal strife.  “We may have another East Timor, Democratic Republic of the Congo or Haiti on our hands,” he said, requesting the Council to focus resources on strengthening the Liberian police and military.

Next, Lieutenant General BABACAR GAYE, Force Commander of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as outgoing Commander had been asked to say a few words on the protection of civilians.  He said protecting civilians was the mission’s priority, a task “more difficult than it sounds”.  Though the military numbered nearly 20,000, the mission had an operational area equivalent to the size of western Europe and a population nearing 65 million.  In the eastern provinces, the entire Force could be spread out to just one peacekeeper per 20 square kilometres, and a lack of roads posed transport problems.

Threats to the population were numerous and varied, he said.  Physical threats were posed by armed groups, and broader human security threats stemmed from years of poverty.  Further, the national army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was struggling to integrate and exercise control over tens of thousands of former militia.  Without proper military training and equipment, and operating in a “highly volatile political environment”, many members of the Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) themselves were a threat to the population.

The approach to such problems was an integrated one, with civilian colleagues in the mission, he said.  The areas of greatest risk had been identified and peacekeepers had been deployed to the most vulnerable sites.  The approach was based on the premise of “presence equals protection” — and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, presence equalled mobility.  While blanket protection could not be provided, the mission had tried to overcome gaps by conducting regular long-range patrols and temporary standing deployments.  The Congolese Army had also made deployments, though not all units had had a positive benefit.

The third essential ingredient to the mission’s protection effort was communication, he explained.  Its military and civilian components had focused on improving communication with the population and key actors.  Community liaison interpreters had been deployed to many troop sites to improve interaction with locals, while a radio and mobile phone network was being rolled out to support unit surveillance centres.  In some remote areas, where the Lord’s Resistance Army continued to prey on small village communities, the mission was also conducting farming patrols, allowing villagers to work in safety in their fields.

Managing expectations had been a challenge, he said, noting that Congolese who saw a well-organized team of blue helmets could not understand why the team could not protect everyone, everywhere.  Concerned actors in the international community also often had high, “unrealistic” expectations.  “We have not shied away from the challenge,” he said, and the Mission had sought out humanitarian actors, among others, to help it do a better job.

Ultimately, protection of the population would depend on the expansion of State authority and rule of law across the country, he said, which was still a work in progress.  Protecting civilians was new ground for many troops and there was a need for in-depth United Nations military doctrine and more comprehensive training.  Greater use of interpreters was also vital.  There would always be risks, but by adopting such a proactive and high-profile stance, the United Nations could show a strong commitment to the important task of championing the most vulnerable.

Major-General MOSES BISONG OBI, Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), said that his operation was in the midst of a very crucial period, as Sudan approached the referenda that would determine its future.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement required that they be held by 9 January 2011.  Although those referenda were part of a nationally-managed process, both parties had called on UNMIS to play a strong role in support.  With only five months to go until the 9 January deadline, time was swiftly running out for the parties to come to political agreement on a number of issues.  The South Sudan Referendum Commission had yet to become fully operational; the Abyei Referendum Commission had not yet been formed.

Most day to day violence in the area was tribal in nature.  The emergence of rebel groups, linked closely to tribal affiliations and dissatisfied losers from the last election, had been the trend lately.  In its support to the referenda, lessons-learned from previous elections were being applied, but the configuration of voting sites was different.  That had resulted in clashes with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), resulting in displacement of the population and human rights abuses.  Of particular concern was the area in which Darfur abutted South Sudan.  The plan was to send patrols to that area, but SPLA had often resisted such efforts.  There were also threats from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in border areas.

The ceasefire had held, to a greater extent, he said, and most of the current violence in the UNMIS area of operations was occurring at local levels.  The post-election period was tense, and SPLA obstruction on operations had increased somewhat.  “Our primary focus is the protection of civilians,” he said, and the provision of more safe areas had been planned, including refuge areas for internally-displaced persons.  Freedom of movement, due to obstructions by both parties, was a constant concern.  He described incidents in which an UNMIS helicopter had been hijacked and a patrol manhandled.  Such harassment had been protested at all levels.

Resource limitations, he said, were also a problem and more air transport assets were sorely needed.  He planned to create a more mobile force to enhance regional stability, to allow wider patrolling in order to discourage violence against civilians.  In sum, he concluded, the referenda were of historic significance and the challenge for UNMIS and the international community in ensuring credible referenda was huge.  UNMIS, he affirmed, was conscious of its responsibility and “all hands are on deck” to ensure successful mandate implementation.

Major-General ROBERT MOOD, Head of Mission and Chief of Staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, said it was an honour to lead the first United Nations peacekeeping operation, created in 1949, and which straddled complex fault lines in Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.  The Mission provided a presence not limited to withdrawals and disengagement.  It also continued to provide a United Nations presence in the area and enjoyed the consent of States wherever it operated.

In addition, he said, once UNFIL and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) had fulfilled their mandates, UNTSO would provide continuity in overall regional peace efforts.  And as borders were discussed between Israel, its neighbours, and a future Palestinian State, the Mission was as relevant today as when it was first deployed.  The 153 unarmed female and male observers were well-trained and contributed significantly to other regional efforts of the Organization.

On concerns and challenges, he affirmed that improved coordination between civilian and military components was extremely valuable and there was also a need to draw the assistance of countries not in the immediate region into peace efforts.  He added that seeds of conflict from global threats, such as a lack of water, were also coming closer to the Middle East.  In relation to all those challenges, as the United Nations called upon the parties in the Middle East conflict to show maximum restraint, refrain from violations of Security Council resolutions and engage in active dialogue, UNTSO remained ready and able to support their positive engagements, he pledged.

Major General LUIZ GUILHERME PAUL CRUZ, Force Commander of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), said that since its inception in 2004, the Mission had moved through various milestones.  Amid violence in Haiti, legislative and executive elections were held in February 2006.  The Mission had played a significant role in ensuring the presidential elections were organized, monitored and carried out in a free and fair manner.

Giving an overview, he said the years 2006 and 2007 saw the Mission’s military component assist in the restoration and maintenance of the rule of law, while 2008 and 2009 were rife with riots and the destruction caused by a hurricane.  On 12 January 2010, the earthquake levelled entire neighbourhoods in Port-au-Prince and dealt a severe blow to a still weak Haitian economy.  Noting that the Secretary-General’s 22 April report had made recommendations on the Mission’s future role, he said that, after a period of consolidation, the Mission would require a “surge effort” to help the Government preserve stabilization gains and transition to long-term reconstruction.

Since the earthquake, humanitarian assistance, along with relief and recovery operations, had been the primary focus of the Mission and United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, he said.  The Mission had actively engaged in stage two of humanitarian relief operations.  Food, water, shelter and emergency medical assistance had been delivered, while a strategic plan detailing the “normalization phase” was being developed.  Notwithstanding the new mandate of the military component following the earthquake, humanitarian assistance had always been a key area of focus.  However, the Mission’s activities were not intended to be a vehicle for Government development efforts; nor were they to replace civilian organizations that had a greater capacity for undertaking development work.

The Mission’s military force had provided quick-response assistance in the aftermath of hurricanes, floods and security breaches, he said, noting that since the earthquake, the focus on such activities had “increased exponentially”.  Through a joint operations task centre, the Mission coordinated assistance provided by diverse actors.  The military component now had the added responsibility of participating in the security of internally displaced person (IDP) camps.  Engineers were working daily to improve the quality of life of communities across Haiti through projects such as rubble removal and roads clearing.  The military component of the Mission had, since its inception, been involved in humanitarian assistance.  It would continue to pursue those activities to help create a secure and stable environment for Haiti.

Statements

IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina), noting that his country was a troop-contributing country, said achieving sustainable peace from an initial peace agreement required clear mandates adapted to country-specific situations.  To implement mandates, major gaps in capabilities, resources and training had to be addressed by enhancing coordination between the Council and the Secretariat.  Indeed, the United Nations had improved the effectiveness of its peacekeeping, but the challenges of global deployment of missions would require further improvements to mandate design, strategic planning and cognitive capacity.  He urged the Secretariat to increase its planning capacity expertise.

Further, he said the United Nations roster system encompassing experts in different areas of missions’ activities should be improved, while the deployment of a strategic framework on protection of civilians, containing parameters for mission-specific strategies, would assist mission leadership.  Peacekeeping operations must complement activities addressing the immediate needs of local populations and implementing quick-impact projects would contribute to building confidence in peacekeepers.  Finally, strengthening national capacities was vital, and he emphasized the importance of activities to that end, including the training of national police and military personnel in international humanitarian law and international refugee law.

EMMANUEL ISSOZE-NGONDET ( Gabon) welcomed participants in today’s discussion and paid tribute to blue helmets throughout the world.  He welcomed the fact that the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) was reaching its full deployment and was more effectively protecting civilians.  In addition, he welcomed MONUSCO’s new strategies and its support to the Government to better protect civilians.  The new mandate was more realistic, since it allowed the Mission to adapt to changing realities on the ground. 

He welcomed, in addition, the fact that the mandates of peacekeeping operations increasingly included multidisciplinary specialities.  He said that missions such as UNAMID, however, were still facing restrictions, because of a lack of resources.  He encouraged the international community to provide adequate resources for Missions to fulfil their mandates and to be able to more effectively protect civilians, as they continued to be threatened in a host of situations, including by such armed groups as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

CHRISTIAN EBNER (Austria) welcomed today’s discussion, including the participation of Force Commanders and Troop-Contributing Countries, saying such communication was crucial for the operation of the Council.  He affirmed the importance of clear and realistic mandates for peacekeeping operations, saying that benchmarks had proven useful to clearly track progress.  With the growing complexity of missions and a scarcity of resources, “we are confronted with serious capability gaps” that could jeopardize the success and reputation of peacekeeping.  He said that more consistent information on mission-specific capability gaps and the impact of those gaps could help to effectively mobilize Member States’ support to address them. 

He also supported the “capability driven approach” of the New Horizons plan, and said that early warning approaches needed to be improved, in relationship to information gathering and transmission.  He pointed to the Joint Protection Teams of MONUSCO, designed to provide information gathering and analytical support, and welcomed more field-led initiatives in that regard.  The ultimate goal of any peacekeeping mission with a protection mandate must be to help restore an environment in which the host State can protect its own population.  That went beyond protection from physical violence and must be accompanied by security sector reform; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; and rule of law.  That would also facilitate a transition to sustainable peacebuilding.  Armed groups attacking civilian populations did not respect borders, so cross-border cooperation in peacekeeping operations was required.  The LRA should be the subject of coordinated efforts of all stakeholders and all international actors in the region.

U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria) said peacekeeping continued to evolve, and had grown in scope and complexity.  Welcoming the Council’s meeting with troop- and police-contributing countries, she said they added value to operations in the field of the missions.  The next step was for the Council to better interact with Force Commanders, as feedback would improve the position of peacekeeping mandates.  All mandates must be clear, credible and achievable, and an exit strategy should be linked to the mandate of each mission.  Also, there was a need for a balance between supply and demand, and the quality of personnel and equipment must be commensurate with objectives.  The cultural context of deployment should always be born in mind and pre-deployment training was needed.

Moreover, partnerships in and outside the United Nations were essential for peacekeeping, she said, and the need to involve regional and subregional organizations in that regard could not be overstated.  Achieving coherence between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Service would impact positively on the field.  Finally, she said effective peacekeeping must integrate peacebuilding strategies, and the Peacebuilding Commission could play an important role in that regard.  It was important to strengthen the mandates and rules of engagement of peacekeepers with a view to increasing their safety.  Durable peace could only be achieved through inclusive dialogue and reconciliation.

CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico) said that, through lessons learned, it had been recognized that peacekeeping operations must take into account fundamental aspects in order to achieve sustainable peace.  The drafting of clear, credible and achievable mission mandates with sufficient resources was important in that regard.  Also vital was the commitment by the parties to achieve peaceful solutions; a general peace agreement; and an understanding by the parties — and the general population — of the benefits of achieving the mission’s objectives.  Adapting mandates required pragmatic and short-term activities from the Council and the Organization as a whole.   Mexico was aware of the difficulties that missions faced in complying fully with their mandates, as they often had to support political dialogue, undertake security sector reform and deal with organized crime, among other tasks.

It was essential to ensure cooperation with the country involved during the entire stay of the mission, he said.  Decisive political support by the Organization must also be guaranteed to operations on the ground and, in that regard, he underscored full respect for resolution 1502 (2003) on protection of United Nations personnel, related personnel and humanitarian personnel in conflict areas.  MINUSTAH had taken an important step in increasing its police component. In Sudan, it was clear that international attention must focus on preparations for the referendum and UNMIS was essential to such work.  Escalation of tensions following elections was a new challenge for the south, and the role of UNMIS military personnel would be key in coming months.  In the Middle East, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization’s work could be more important in the future, given the characteristics of the region.

SHIGEKI SUMI (Japan) extended appreciation for the work of peacekeepers around the world and welcomed greater communications between the Council and the field, represented by the presence of Force Commanders in the Council today.  He emphasized that the intentions of each mandate should be clearly stated in the relevant resolutions, with the views of Force Commanders incorporated to ensure the achievability of such mandates.  To further enhance communications, he proposed increased dialogue with mission leaders.  There should also be more discussion on the Council’s information-gathering and communications capabilities, building on such communications as those of MONUSCO.

The use of mission “gap lists” must also become more effective, he said, asking for the views of the Force Commanders on that issue.  Strengthening cooperation between civilian and military components for humanitarian reasons also needed to be addressed, as well as strengthening the integration of missions in general.  He asked what had been discussed regarding those issues yesterday at the Force Commanders’ meeting.

REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP (Brazil) said that the presence of Force Commanders in the Council today brought to the fore an obvious but fundamental truth:  “peacekeeping happens on the ground”.  Mission leaders must be trusted and not micromanaged, but the Council could and should give them the strategic guidance and multifaceted support they needed.  The past year had seen a wealth of conceptual development and political support for the protection of civilians, and there now must be concrete results on the ground in that daunting challenge.  Priority should be given to preparation of a strategic framework to guide mission leaders.

In addition, she said, clearer guidance was still needed on how peacekeepers could best contribute to peace-building.  In regard to the Global Field Support Strategy, she affirmed the importance of fully engaging Member States in the process and stressed that the Secretariat should continue to bear in mind the critical connection between logistics and mandate fulfilment.  For example, modularization could allow civilian personnel to be safely deployed at an earlier stage with potentially important benefits.  She finally alerted the Council to the results of the seminar on peacekeeping held in her country in June, saying that a summary of its results would soon be circulated to Member States.  One key conclusion was that “exit strategies” must be based on effective “staying strategies” — not in the sense of overstaying, but ensuring that the mission’s achievements were preserved and built upon.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE ( France) said his country wished to participate in enhancing peacekeeping operations.  In 2009, France had launched an initiative with the United Kingdom mission to improve the political and military follow-up of Council decisions.  Progress had been made, both because of the Council’s brainstorming, the New Horizon report and the work of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.   France welcomed the “green light” given to the Global Support Strategy and France would help ensure a strengthening of the chain of command and a more rigorous financial tracking of peacekeeping operations.  Indeed, budgets had grown exponentially and it was important to manage budgets more responsibly.  Deliberations by the Fifth Committee (administrative and budgetary) showed that concern was being taken into account.

The outlook from the field was key, he said, asking Field Commanders for their suggestions on improving peacekeeping operations.  Regarding the protection of civilians, he cited a joint report of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, saying that document had been drafted to help peacekeeping operations better carry out their mandates.  MONUSCO, UNAMID and UNMIS all had crafted protection strategies, what were the main conclusions?  What challenges did peacekeepers face in carrying out the protection of civilians mandate?  MONUSCO was engaged in military operations in the east, and the Council had asked the mission to put in place a system of conditionalities.  To what extent was that contributing to the protection of civilians or impeding the mission’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration mandate?  How was UNMIL preparing for force drawdown?

RUHAKANA RUGUNDA (Uganda) said that by addressing existing and emerging challenges, peacekeeping operations would become more effective in maintaining international peace and security.  Multifaceted mandates asked missions to promote dialogue, protect civilians, undertake security sector reform, support electoral processes and restore the rule of law.  Such work called for careful planning and coordination.  Indeed, there had been cases of mismatching mandates with resource provision.  In other instances, deployments had resulted in conflict escalation and loss of life.

Commending initiatives for inter-mission cooperation, including in the protection of civilians, he asked Lieutenant General GAYE about cooperation among missions in the region.  What challenges did peacekeepers face and what more could be done?  To boost the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, more commitment was needed to provide financial, logistical and human resources.  Further, parties must give full support to the missions.  The United Nations should strengthen its partnerships with regional and subregional organizations.  Finally, he reiterated the need for peacebuilding activities to be incorporated into peacekeeping missions to address the root causes of conflict.

ROSEMARY DICARLO ( United States) recognized the great sacrifice made by all those working in peacekeeping around the world.  She said that in increasing the effectiveness of peacekeeping, realism must be paramount, as well as ensuring adequate resources.  She hoped that the early deployment strategy would also boost the effectiveness of peacekeeping, as would increased review of means and objectives and greater integration with peacebuilding efforts. 

The United States was active on many of those fronts and was committed to further strengthening the effectiveness of peacekeeping, she said.  She welcomed the steps that the Commanders had taken to address conduct and discipline.  Addressing specific Force Commanders, she asked about stemming sexual violence in Haiti, and support for elections in Liberia.

LI BAODONG (China) commended the Force Commanders, as well as the blue helmets deployed all over the world, for their work.  He stressed that peacekeeping operations must have viable political processes behind them; there must be a peace to keep.  In that regard, he said that UNAMID had reached nearly its full deployment, but the political track had to be accelerated in order to allow it to fulfil its mandate. 

In addition, he said that exit strategies should be aimed at an effective interface with peacebuilding, to allow a smooth transition.  He hoped to hear more about achieving strategic benchmarks for those purposes.  Peacekeeping arrangements needed to be flexible enough to be able to adapt to conditions on the ground, as transmitted to the Council by the Secretary-General’s advisors and other mission leaders.

JOHN PARNHAM (United Kingdom) said the 5 August 2009 presidential statement had acknowledged the need to improve access to military advice.  While progress had been made, more could be done to improve the Council’s operational understanding, with a view to crafting realistic mandates.  The United Kingdom had supported changes to improve the interaction between the Council and police- and troop-contributors.  In the protection of civilians, forces needed more mobility.  At the same time, they faced freedom of movement constraints.  Would better technology and intelligence be effective force multipliers in that regard?  Robustness in peacekeeping was a sensitive topic, but to be effective, United Nations missions must have the capacity and will to deter those threatening civilians.

In Haiti, when MINUSTAH patrolled the capital, Brazilian peacekeepers had adopted a robust posture, which had created an environment for other United Nations agencies to operate safely.  He asked for the Force Commanders’ views on such behaviour.  There were circumstances where peacekeeping operations should be involved in quick-impact projects and reconstruction efforts, not least to establish credibility with local communities.  But that should not crowd out agencies better placed to do such work.  Local capacity must be built alongside such work and the United Kingdom urged strict limits for funding of such projects.  He asked the Force Commander in Haiti how he ensured that humanitarian and reconstruction efforts were coordinated with other parts of the United Nations. On security sector reform in Liberia, he asked for views about why progress was slow and what the Council could do to address that.

CAROLINE ZIADE (Lebanon) said the main underpinnings of success of United Nations peacekeeping rested on several factors.  Peacekeeping should not be an end in itself; rather, it was part of a political solution.  She underscored the importance of developing clear and achievable mandates, matched with required resources; adherence to the principles of impartiality, sovereignty and political independence; a strong link between peacebuilding and peacekeeping; and respect for peacekeepers’ safety.  Thanking the Force Commanders for their contributions, she expressed the hope that such direct interaction would continue in the future.

She asked the Force Commanders of UNAMID and MONUSCO about ongoing cooperation among missions in the region.  What tools were needed to improve cooperation and sharing of lessons learned to combat the activities of the Lords Resistance Army, among others?  In Liberia, she asked about the risk of a “security vacuum” as the mission drew down its forces.  In Haiti, she appreciated the mission’s efforts in terms of relief and assistance to civilians.  She asked about the major logistical challenges in coordinating donor assistance to rebuilding efforts.  In her region, Lebanon fully supported UNIFIL and UNTSO and was committed to resolution 1701 (2006) in its entirety.  Both UNIFIL and UNTSO enjoyed excellent cooperation with the Lebanese armed forces.  She asked Mr. MOOD about the mode of reporting by UNTSO to Headquarters; was it undertaken directly or through UNIFIL?

ERTUĞRUL APAKAN (Turkey) expressed appreciation for the insight given to the Council by the briefings of the Force Commanders.  He asked them if the mandates that had been drawn up by the Council had, indeed, been clear, and if they were sufficiently equipped to lead early peace-building activities.  Was there sufficient coordination between peacekeepers and those involved with development?

He also asked how other gaps could effectively be closed, and how better consultations with police contributors could improve effectiveness.  Supporting a global training network, he asked what problems were foreseen in that area and how those problems could be overcome.

Council President VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation), speaking in his national capacity, said that peacekeeping was one of the crucial tasks of the United Nations, noting his country’s extensive contributions.  Noting the unprecedented challenges, he said enhanced military expertise was needed and that his country’s proposals in that area were still on the table. 

Best use must be made of existing capacities and, given the growing demand for police services, better division of labour was called for.  In that vein, relevant peacebuilding tasks could be better performed by specialized agencies and other actors.  He hoped that today’s meeting would further the common desire to make United Nations peacekeeping more effective and expressed his country’s commitment to making such exchanges of views a regular Council practice.

HENRI-PAUL NORMANDIN (Canada) said peacekeepers faced the lingering forces of war and violence in post-conflict and fragile State settings, where operational environments were characterized by asymmetric threats.  There was a growing need for the use of force to protect United Nations personnel and others from danger.  Field Commanders must have the tools for success, and the wide range of tasks peacekeepers were called upon to execute required mandates and forces designed for flexibility, responsiveness and mobility.  Equally, inherent adaptability to changing conditions on the ground had become a necessary characteristic for deployed forces.  Technology must be fully exploited to provide Force Commanders with timely and accurate information.  At the same time, improving the ability to collate and analyse data was essential to improving decision-making.

In responding to threats, force mobility over extremes of terrain was a defining feature of peacekeeping capabilities, he said, and Commanders appeared hampered in two respects.  First, there were gaps in force capabilities, particularly helicopters and ground transport.  It was essential for the Secretariat to work with existing and potential contributors to address systemic impediments.  Second, contingents were being deployed without the requisite contingent-owned equipment.  Cooperation among the Council, Secretariat, troop and police contributors, and donors could identify such shortfalls.  It was also important that troops be properly trained to meet their diverse tasks.  They often needed guidance on their specialized responsibilities.

HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said that as one of the most active participants in peacekeeping operations, India attached great importance to the role of peacekeepers in maintaining international peace and security.  India had been present in virtually every United Nations peacekeeping operation.  Recently, it tripled its police contribution to MINUSTAH.  The role of women in peacekeeping had been a key focus of the Council, and India wished to meet aspirations in that regard.  In that context, he highlighted the all female Indian formed police unit in Liberia.  India was also working on the possibility of increasing such female peacekeepers.

The manner in which mandates were generated must be examined, as mandates had been detached from realities, he continued.  Mandates must be clear, achievable and in keeping with available resources.  It was imperative that consultations with troop contributors be substantive and more must be done in that regard.  For example, India had yet to be briefed on the UNIFIL operational area, despite having troops there.  He was concerned by command and control issues on the ground and “keeping us in the loop in New York”.  Today’s crises required a broad array of responses; indeed, peacekeepers had been called on to protect civilians.  In some circumstances, a high degree of operational support could be needed.  The inadequate living conditions of peacekeepers was an issue that did not receive enough attention.  Better peacekeeping required more resources and material.

ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON (Pakistan) welcomed the presentation of Force Commanders’ views, although he said he would have liked the format to be more interactive.  He noted his country’s support as a leading troop-contributor for peacekeeping missions with complex mandates, as well as the Council’s wide-ranging responsibilities for conceiving, drafting and adopting such complex mandates.  He said it was important to apply robust peacekeeping to particular conflict zones without applying it as a “broad brush” political generalization, and it must be well-supported.  Robustness to some extent was present in all missions, but over-generalizing the concept could risk overloading the United Nations peacekeeping architecture.

Success in complex missions with robust mandates required a comprehensive approach that ranged over many areas, with the protection of civilians and support to humanitarian assistance cardinal objectives.  Engagement of the host Government and local political actors was essential in that effort and strong regional participation was propitious.  He hoped that the templates developed in the African Union’s participation in UNAMID and its mission in Somalia (AMISOM) could be replicated in other areas.  He stressed that discourse on peacekeeping reform must remain non-political.

LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines), expressing appreciation for the participation of the Force Commanders and paying tribute to blue helmets worldwide, noted that his country had been contributing to peacekeeping for the past 47 years.  Despite its limited resources, there were today 1,057 Filipino military and police personnel serving in nine mission areas, and it was now working on ways to enhance its participation, so it could respond more effectively to requests for troop contribution  He said that the surge in demand for peacekeeping had not always been met by adequate resourcing, but acknowledged that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the Department of Field Support (DFS) had been working hard to overcome those challenges.

He said that the full framework for the protection of civilians must be implemented simultaneously, and that peacekeepers should not be considered long-term peacebuilders, as peacebuilding was a national challenge that entailed national ownership and responsibility.  The handover to national partners must be addressed, therefore, early in the peacebuilding process.  In an immediate post-conflict situation, however, initial peacebuilding responsibilities were often carried out by peacekeepers.

PARK IN-KOOK (Republic of Korea) said the number of peacekeepers in the field had increased nine-fold over the last eleven years, with 124,000 personnel serving in 16 peace operations on four continents.  Noting the Secretary-General’s 22 December 2009 report, he supported the focus on the four interlinked building blocks:  planning and oversight; policy development; capability development; and field support.  In that regard, partnerships with regional organizations, civilian partners and the private sector must be further developed.  To ensure the efficiency of operations, a global and responsive deployment system was essential.  His Government had adopted legislation enabling the deployment of standby forces on short notice.

On the support side, the Department of Field Support had been a major success and his Government expected its strategic support plan would enhance the United Nations field support capability.  Moreover, peacekeeping should be pursued on a two-track “parallel approach” alongside peacebuilding efforts.  To ensure success, peacekeeping operations must not just involve the military dimension, but also encompass strategies rooted in development, human rights and disarmament.  For its part, the Republic of Korea would remain steadfast in its efforts to reconstruct Haiti, and was encouraged by the strengthening of UNIFIL.  He also welcomed the “remarkable” increase in the number of women serving in the field and expressed hope that such progress would continue.

ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh) said the success of peacekeeping largely depended on political support it received, as well as on the adequate provision of financial, logistical and human resources.  In that regard, he emphasized that broader political partnership must be made between the United Nations and host Governments, while inclusive consultation between the Council, Secretariat and troop contributors must occur.  Troop contributors’ views must be reflected when deciding on mission start-up.  Specific timelines must be stipulated in consultation with troop contributors, while any change in the operations must be in compliance with the views of those in the field.  There must also be fair representation of troop-contributing countries in the decision-making process of the Secretariat.

At the operational level, partnerships must be forged with all relevant stakeholders, he said.  Sufficient political partnership must be made between the United Nations and host authority to ensure minimum peace, while coordination must be made for allowing peacekeepers to operate.  General coordination must be ensured among all parties working in the field, while specific coordination should occur among the United Nations and other bilateral parties.  In starting a mission, he urged that mandates be clear, specific and well-defined.  They must also be supported by sufficient resources.  The United Nations also must take necessary measures to ensure training in all activities included in the mandate.  As a major troop contributor, Bangladesh had a “cardinal” role in maintaining international peace and security.  Since 1988, it had been involved with 36 peacekeeping operations, and today was ranked “first in the field”.  Bangladesh was committed to continued work with the United Nations in the maintenance of peace and security.

Response from Force Commanders

Mr. LE ROY, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, introduced other mission leaders present in the Council Chamber and proposed the format for answering questions that had been posed by speakers.

Lieutenant General AFSAL, Force Commander of UNMIL, said that the drawdown envisaged by the Council had been completed and the Mission deployment was adequate for the demands of the upcoming elections.  Handover to Government security forces was already in process.  Workshops had identified what units of the Government would take over specific tasks.  The Government still had less police and military personnel than UNMIL and further assistance in that area was required, given the restrictions on the Government budget.  Without providing security, there could be no governance and no security.

Lieutenant General GAYE said that MONUC and MONUSCO, due to the conditionalities in the support of the Congolese Armed Forces, had developed monitoring strategies.  In terms of enhancing the protection of civilians, he said that there was a need to provide the force with intelligence assets.  Regional coordination of United Nations operations and other actors in the region was ongoing.

Responding to a question on the participation of engineers, Major General PAUL CRUZ said MINUSTAH was reinforced by Japanese and Korean companies of engineers, who were doing “remarkable” work on main roads that had been damaged.  Roads were now fixed.  The Mission was opening sites for Government facilities, such as hospitals and orphanages.  That process was ongoing.  Regarding sexual and gender-based violence, he said one month after the earthquake, major internally displaced persons camps had been established, and there had been increased violence against women.  The mission changed its approach to address that problem.  Indeed, that issue must be addressed broadly, with inclusion of personnel from the community violence reduction programme, with the presence of military and local police.  The message to protect women and children was being spread and he hoped MINUSTAH was helping to diminish such threats to women.

Regarding MINUSTAH’s deterrence posture, he said his orientation to the military had been:  “be there on foot; be part of the local community”.  He had urged them to encourage confidence in the Mission’s work.  As for humanitarian efforts, he said that in the emergency phase, the challenge was to quickly distribute food, water and shelter.  That had been conducted through a joint operational task centre.  The mission also had prepared a plan for better coherence in the delivery of humanitarian assistance.  Debris was a major challenge.  Despite everything that had happened in Haiti, with the electoral process on the horizon, there was an optimistic view that the country would recover.

Major General ABDUL HAFIZ, Force Commander of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), said the protection of civilians was a crucial task which was difficult to carry out.  “We need resources and assets,” he said.  The mission had 7,000 troops placed in a large country.  Deployed troops played a deterrent role and provided intelligence to carry out the mandate to protect civilians.  In each sector, an alert force allowed the mission to rapidly respond to a worsening situation.  That task was incumbent on the Mission’s police, human rights and other personnel.  The Mission was working out a plan to protect those in imminent danger of violence.

Major General ELHADJI MOUHAMADOU KANDJI, Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad, said the Mission had been the first to disappear after only 21 months of activity.  During that time, it had experienced all the critical phases of deployment.  When the Mission had achieved comfortable operational ability, it transitioned to second phase, after which it was asked to stop operations and withdraw.  

Despite that, the Mission had had many achievements, he said, particularly its civilian and police units, and especially on gender.  “They have changed mindsets and behaviours in eastern Chad, even after only 21 months,” he said.  In other areas, he said the principle of deterrence was to show force.  “You need to have adequate resources”, he said, and actors all over the theatre. 

Major General OBI of UNMIS said that there had been recent regional meetings to coordinate responses to such threats as the Lord’s Resistance Army, which was moving in small groups over wide swaths of territory.  The primary responsibility for dealing with them lay with the national Governments, however, and he called for greater cooperation between them for that purpose.

In regard to helicopter needs, he said that UNMIS deployment was over a very wide area, with many areas lacking paved roads.  Therefore, air mobility was crucial.  In addition, UNMIS had been asked to provide electoral support for the referenda at the country level.  For those purposes, operations would have to rely upon mobility even more.  Increased air assets were a priority.

Major General MOOD of UNTSO, in response to a question posed by the representative of Lebanon, said that his mission reported directly to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, but in matters directly related to south Lebanon and in the Golan, it reported to UNIFIL and UNDOF respectively.

Lieutenant-General CHIKADIBIA OBIAKOR, Military Advisor for Peacekeeping Operations, noting that he was about to retire, thanked the United Nations for giving him the opportunity to serve and commended the Force Commanders for their work and their participation in today’s meeting.

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