Fourth Committee Delegate Says Full-Scale Military Operations No Replacement for Diplomacy, Warning against Politicization of United Nations Peacekeeping
Fourth Committee Delegate Says Full-Scale Military Operations No Replacement for Diplomacy, Warning against Politicization of United Nations Peacekeeping
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
17th Meeting (AM)
Fourth Committee Delegate Says Full‑Scale Military Operations No Replacement
For Diplomacy, Warning against Politicization of United Nations Peacekeeping
Do Not Blaze New Frontiers before Fixing Old Problems, Speaker Says, as Many
Buck Trend of Doing More with Less When It Comes to Meeting Peacekeeping Mandates
While peacekeeping operations remained an integral tool for maintaining peace and security, full‑scale military operations could not be seen as a replacement for long‑term peaceful diplomatic efforts, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) was told today as it concluded its debate on peacekeeping for the main part of the sixty‑sixth session.
Highlighting the case of Libya, the representative of the Russian Federation said that not all possibilities had been explored for a ceasefire, such as dialogue with the conflicting parties. All too often, complaints from host countries about non‑neutrality and lack of impartiality were well‑founded. When peacekeepers got involved in internal political conflict, or supported one of the parties to the conflict, it undermined the authority of the Organization as a whole and threatened the peacekeepers themselves.
Operating under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, and where there was military intervention from the outside, there was sometimes a loss of civilian life, he said. The Organization was seeing more effective use of Chapter VI (pacific settlement of disputes) of the Charter, and more must be made of effective use of resources under Chapter VIII (regional arrangements). Then too, planning a withdrawal strategy must be transparent, with the main criterion being achievement of solid conditions for a political settlement. Sometimes, missions were wound down or reconfigured before they had achieved their essential task.
The Russian Federation had a well‑known initiative, he said, for enhancing the Security Council’s expertise, which would allow for systemic analysis of the military and political situations in different areas of the world. Evaluating peacekeeping experiences in Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan and other problem areas could help to assess the value of regional instruments in finding political solutions. Above all, he favoured clear mandates, which he said were vital for defining the role of peacekeeping, especially in tandem with available resources.
Similarly, South Africa’s representative warned against the politicization of peacekeeping, encouraging the United Nations to guard against becoming partisan. Peacekeeping itself was not a panacea for conflict resolution. He agreed that, given the complexity of modern‑day conflicts, clearly defined and achievable mandates with clear exit strategies were warranted. Warning against blazing new frontiers before fixing old problems, he echoed the concern of many speakers throughout the four‑day debate that critical resources were in short supply, and that better sharing in the field was integral to successful peacekeeping.
Regardless of a country’s scale of financial contribution, said the representative of Japan, assuring greater effectiveness and efficiency in United Nations peacekeeping was at the top of the agenda for all United Nations Member States. More complex mandates, such as the disarmament of former combatants, security sector reform, and civilian protection, often were required. All were now obliged to confront the highly demanding task of finding ways to do more with less.
However, Jordan’s representative held that the trend of doing more with less could create a gap between capabilities and viable mandate completion. It was appropriate to go back to the Brahimi Report and the lessons learned from that challenging period of peacekeeping history. One of the key lessons had been the need for clear and achievable mandates, with resources to match.
Echoing the call for clear mandates, the representative of Fiji emphasized the need for thorough and timely assessment along with sound intelligence, and adequate resources commensurate with peacekeeping mandates. In that respect, Fiji welcomed the establishment of the Senior Advisory Group to consider the rates of reimbursement to troop contributing countries. He emphasized that “peacekeepers are not commodities and the United Nations was not a commercial entity”.
Also speaking were the representatives of Myanmar, Lebanon, Mexico, Ecuador, Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Cuba, Nigeria, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., on Friday 28 October to take up assistance in mine action.
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue, with the aim of concluding, its general debate on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects. (For background, see Press Release GA/SPD/490 of 24 October.)
U KYAW MYO HTUT ( Myanmar) said that the growing contributions made by regional and subregional organizations could effectively support the work of the United Nations in maintaining international peace and security. As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Myanmar supported the United Nations‑ASEAN joint efforts of workshops and seminars on conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Also, while recognizing the important role of peacekeeping operations, Myanmar shared the “principle position” of the Non‑Aligned Movement that the respect of sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity of all States, and non‑interference in domestic affairs should be strictly upheld.
Endorsing the United Nations peacebuilding architecture consisting of the Peacebuilding Commission, Peacebuilding Support Office and Peacebuilding Fund, he added that those bodies needed to be harmonized in a policy framework to meet the new strategic challenges. The total amount of outstanding payment for peacekeeping operations as of 5 October was $3.3 billion. Myanmar joined the other delegations in expressing concern about the outstanding dues and called for fulfilling the outstanding financial contributions on time and without conditions.
NIKITA ZHUKOV ( Russian Federation) said that United Nations peacekeeping was constantly evolving, both conceptually and operationally. It included as well an increasing number of tasks, including protecting civilians. One must act more quickly and effectively, and there must be improved interaction between the Secretariat, the Security Council, and troop‑contributing countries.
He said that challenges were still evident in the planning and carrying out of operations. Host countries were not always cooperative and complained about non‑neutrality and a lack of impartiality. Those complaints were too often well‑founded. Recently, the Security Council had striven to meet the wishes of a number of countries with regard to peacekeeping operations in their territories and had scaled them down or, in some cases, even ended the operations. It was in some cases unacceptable for peacekeepers to get involved in internal political conflict, or to provide support to one of the parties to the conflict. That undermined the authority of the Organization as a whole and threatened the peacekeepers themselves. Operating under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, and where there was military intervention from the outside, there was sometimes a loss of civilian life. As in the case of Libya, not all possibilities had been explored for a ceasefire, such as dialogue with the conflicting parties.
Full‑scale military operations could not be seen as a replacement for long‑term peaceful diplomatic efforts, he said. His delegation was not ready to look at peacekeeping exclusively from the viewpoint of civilian protection, because its fundamental function must remain the maintenance of peace, and ensuring security in countries where peacekeepers were deployed. The international community must focus on securing peacekeepers’ security, as this year, there had been considerable loss of life. Those cases must be investigated and the guilty must be prosecuted.
He said the Russian Federation had a well‑known initiative for enhancing the expertise of the Security Council, which would allow for systemic analysis of the military and political situations in different areas of the world. Planning a withdrawal strategy must be transparent, and the main criterion must remain achieving solid conditions for a political settlement. In some ways, missions were wound down or reconfigured before they had achieved their essential task. The Security Council must act preventively and develop mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of conflicts. The Organization was seeing more effective use of Chapter VI (pacific settlement of disputes) of the Charter, and more must be made of effective use of resources under Chapter VIII (regional arrangements).
Evaluating the experience gained from operations in Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Sudan and other problem areas could help to assess the value of regional instruments in finding political solutions, he said. Missions still faced the problem of a lack of military technology and a need to develop air transport. He stressed the responsibility of the Secretariat in planning operations, coordinating between Headquarters and the field. The Russian Federation’s participation in peacekeeping under the United Nations was an imperative today, and Russian soldiers and police forces continued to participate in operations. His country attached great importance to properly training staff for field operations.
KAZUO KODAMA ( Japan) said that it went without saying that United Nations peacekeeping faced historically challenging situations. Given the climate surrounding peacekeeping operations, more complex mandates such as disarmament of former combatants, security sector reform, and civilian protection, were often required. Japan assumed that assuring greater effectiveness and efficiency in United Nations peacekeeping to be at the top of the agenda for all United Nations Member States, regardless of their scale of financial contribution. All were now obliged to confront the highly demanding task of finding ways to do more with less.
He said his country remained an active and responsible partner in that, as the second biggest financial contributor and a competent troop contributing country. While dispatching its troops and personnel to United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), and United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor‑Leste (UNMIT), Japan was studying the possibility of dispatching an engineering unit of its Self‑Defence Forces to the newly established mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). It was essential for the Committee to conduct substantive discussion from both the political and practical perspective, taking into account the fundamental peacekeeping principles, as well as the global financial situation and recent movements and developments in various parts of the world.
Concurring with the Under‑Secretary‑ General, Japan believed that United Nations peacekeeping should be a global partnership in which various Member States contributed in the manner they could best contribute, whether troops, police, or funds, he said. The Special Committee on Peacekeeping, Committee of 34 was the primary body in which the “concrete experience and deep wisdom” of its member States was aggregated. Japan appreciated the initiative put forward by the delegates of Canada and Morocco to improve the working methods of that Committee. Further, Japan believed that the concept of triangular cooperation must be promoted. Today’s United Nations peacekeeping operations required active mutual collaboration. The concept of peacekeeping as an early form of peacebuilding was acquiring growing credibility within the Organization, and Japan applauded various efforts to assess the potential synergy between peacebuilding and peacekeeping. However, the concept was yet to be fully elaborated and the Committee should conduct substantive discussions about its feasibility.
MOHAMMAD TARAWNEH ( Jordan) said that in order to meet the wide and complex range of threats to peace and stability around the globe, peacekeeping operations had shifted to multidimensional enterprises that included more complicated mandates that were even more difficult to achieve. The variety of aspects, such as conflict prevention, post‑conflict peacebuilding and democratization, not to mention sustainable development, had remarkably resulted in the formulation of a doctrine of peacekeeping that “linked the chain” with an efficient, effective, and holistic response in any peacekeeping situation.
He said that the responsive development of the missions arose to meet the dynamic nature and the increasing number of conflicts, coupled with high demand for troop deployment. The international community must respond to calls for increased peacekeeping, and it was appropriate to then go back to the Brahimi Report and the lessons learned from a challenging period of peacekeeping history. One of those key lessons was the need for clear and achievable mandates, with resources to match. That went against the trend of “doing more with less”, which could create a gap between capabilities and viable mandate completion. He stressed that, under international law, the primary responsibility for the security of peacekeepers lay with the host Government. He endorsed the importance and continuous process of reforming and evolving the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support in all their aspects, in addition to the importance of the unofficial New Horizon paper. That non‑paper had stressed that enhancing partnership and cooperation between stakeholders should not only comprise the regulatory and managerial partnerships, but also the expanding of the base of countries contributing troops to include developed States.
ESALA NAYASI ( Fiji) said that deployments had reached unprecedented levels in 2010 and that the discharge of multidimensional mandates remained a challenge. The implementation of protection of civilian mandates was an onerous task, bringing into question the standards of pre‑deployment and in‑mission trainings. Those challenges should reinforce the commitment to the guiding principles of United Nations peacekeeping. The New Horizon and the Global Field Support Strategy were welcome initiatives. Fiji was pleased to learn that a second progress report on New Horizons would be circulated soon, with a view to assessing the effectiveness of those reform efforts.
Any mandate should be based on thorough and timely assessment, he stated, along with sound intelligence, and must provide for adequate resources commensurate with peacekeeping mandates. In that respect, Fiji welcomed the establishment of the Senior Advisory Group to consider the rates of reimbursement to troop contributing countries. He emphasized that “peacekeepers are not commodities and the United Nations was not a commercial entity”. Further, the success of any peacekeeping mission in fulfilling its mandate depended heavily on the structure of command and control. There must be clear links and channels of command between the officers in the field, and the military and police advisors, and decision makers in New York.
BASO SANGQU (South Africa), associating his statement with that made on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement, condemned in the strongest terms possible the killing of peacekeepers. Those were dedicated men and women aware of the inherent risks of modern day peacekeeping, but they nevertheless stayed the course. To fulfil the high expectation of the international community and local populations, all must be mindful of the demands and pressures placed on troops. In terms of the complex nature of modern‑day conflicts, there must be clearly defined and achievable mandates with clear exit strategies. Peacekeeping itself was not a panacea for conflict resolution.
He reiterated that United Nations peacekeeping missions must be in line with the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Impartiality and non‑use of force must be adhered to. Peacekeeping must not be politicized, and the United Nations must guard against becoming a partisan, as that would undermine the Organization. While much ground had been gained with regard to enhancing triangular cooperation, there was still a way to go. He cautioned against blazing new frontiers before first fixing old problems, or merely postponing addressing problems to a later date.
Further, he said that partnership should not stop at the policy arena. Critical resources were of short supply, and better sharing in the field remained integral to making peacekeeping more successful. He encouraged Member States, in particular the permanent members of the Security Council, to contribute to peacekeeping missions, including through personnel and equipment. The African Union continued to play a crucial role in peacekeeping operations. The United Nations must make sure that African Union missions were provided with sufficient capabilities to carry out their mandates. Peacekeeping and peacebuilding could play an important role in establishing the foundation for a sustainable peace, rule of law and good governance around the world.
TOUFIC JABER ( Lebanon) said that peacekeeping was not an alternative to an inclusive political process. It provided space for a process that could guarantee the protection of civilians and the achievement of sustainable peace. Respect for the safety and security of peacekeepers and their possessions, not only was critical for the fulfilment of their mandate, but also was a measure of the primacy of international law and respect for Security Council resolutions.
He said that developing clear and achievable mandates backed up by required resources and timely support was one the main underpinnings of the success of peacekeeping. The nexus between security and development was well‑established and there should be a strong link between peacekeeping and peacebuilding. It was also necessary to strengthen the role of regional and subregional organizations in accordance with the Charter’s Chapter VIII, especially the African Union.
Emphasizing that the Committee of 34 had a key role to play in policy formation and enhancing regular coordination, he said that as peacekeeping now appeared to be in a period of consolidation after a period of substantive growth, it was necessary to learn important lessons from that growth. Peacekeeping should not only focus on areas such as security sector reform but also on sustainable development. He concluded by reaffirming Lebanon’s full support to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which played an important role in South Lebanon. The Force had been steadfast in its support of the Lebanese people’s struggle to end Israeli occupation of their land and particularly in partnering in mine clearance in that part of country.
RODRIGO PINTADO (Mexico), aligning his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Rio Group, said that peacekeeping operations were a fundamental part of the work done by the United Nations for the preservation of international peace and security. As time passed, operations became more complex and multidisciplinary, responding and adapting to situations in which they were being carried out. Experience had shown that there were five crucial elements required when carrying out missions. Those needed clear, credible and attainable mandates, backed up by adequate material, military, police and civilian resources.
He said that missions also needed clear objectives and clearly defined time frames and benchmarks to assess all stages of its functioning, including transition and exit strategy. Those further required an integrated overall approach to be able to take earlier steps for peacebuilding. Peacekeeping missions needed to seek the parties’ commitment to find a peaceful solution to a conflict, as deployment was no replacement to the political will of the parties. There should be a strategy for helping parties understand the goals of the operation, and to help them see it as their own.
He supported strategic partnership between the United Nations and regional organizations, such as the African Union, and also supported local partnerships. He believed that a new vision of peacekeeping operations must be accompanied by a clear strategy to ensure more effective use of available resources. A review was today under way of the methodology to calculate reimbursement rates for troop costs. His delegation was following the upcoming establishment of a senior advisory group to consider reimbursement to troop contributing countries, and he hoped that would strengthen Member States commitments to that essential work.
JENNY LALAMA (Ecuador), associating her statement with that of the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Rio Group, said that the central goal of her country’s foreign policy was the maintenance of peace and security. Ecuador had established a peace training school so that well‑trained soldiers could be part of the United Nations peacekeeping reserve, and it had contributed to missions in Haiti, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. As for zero tolerance on sexual misconduct, training was provided before troops were deployed.
Welcoming the progress in determining the reimbursement rates, she stated that improvements could still be made, and she urged the Security Council to continue to ensure equal treatment for all. Relevant resolutions should be implemented as reimbursement delays could jeopardize countries’ participation in peacekeeping operations.
Ecuador welcomed the gender mainstreaming in peacekeeping operations, both at the decision‑making and post‑conflict levels. She concluded by calling for greater efficiency and revitalizing of the Committee of 34, which was the only body exclusively responsible for peacekeeping operations.
ANTOINE SOMDAH ( Burkina Faso) welcomed initiatives and actions undertaken by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support aimed to reinforce peacekeeping capacity. He believed that the success of an operation depended on the conjugation of actions at the political and organizational levels while strictly abiding by the United Nations Charter. The non‑use of force, respect of sovereignty, the consent of parties, and the neutrality of the Organization remained essential and must constantly guide its interventions and actions. The main goal was to support a political peace process. While peacekeeping operations were implemented in addition to the political process of establishing peace, such operations could not take the place of a peace process itself.
From an operational standpoint, the efficiency of operations depended on clearly defined and implementable mandates, and the realities on the ground included overall organization, logistic support and appropriate training for all involved so that they could fully conduct their missions. He concurred that peacekeeping was based on a global partnership, and reaffirmed how important it was to strengthen this United Nations partnership with regional actors. It was important to admit that the complexity of the conflict and threats to peace demanded a collective response based on a strategic partnership, and better use of comparative advantages. The African Union had previously noted its commitment and very significant contribution to peacekeeping operations.
He said it was important to continue to examine better ways and means of strengthening institutionally the African Union’s capacities in the area of peacekeeping operations. He further stressed that civilian protection required that issue to be at the heart of peacekeeping missions and mandates and that the spirit and the letter of those protection orders be respected. Nevertheless, protecting civilians was an overall aim of “collective security”, and it therefore fell first and foremost to States themselves and the parties to the conflict who should continually be reminded of their duty.
RAZA BASHIR TARAR (Pakistan), associating with the statement of the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that the first step in addressing the challenges facing United Nations peacekeeping was to strengthen triangular cooperation between the Security Council, the troop‑contributing countries, and the Secretariat. Open consultations and coherence were imperative, especially in contingencies arising out of sudden changes in the political situation. Such transparency had regrettably been lacking during the rewriting of the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) or shifting the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) to UNMISS. More open channels of communication between the Security Council and the troop contributors could have improved administrative and logistic arrangements for critical drawdown or inter‑mission transfers, carried out in UNMIS and UNOCI respectively.
He said that the first step to addressing the broad array of challenges was to strengthen triangular cooperation. Provision of adequate resources to implement complex mandates was also mandatory. In many missions, scarcity of troops and vital resources remained critical — threatening the ability of the United Nations to operate effectively and safely. Timely deployment of aviation assets was also becoming increasingly important. United Nations peacekeeping should be distinguished from traditional law enforcement rooted to the ideals of protecting civilian populations. Protection of civilians was a primary responsibility of the host Government, which could be complemented by a peacekeeping mission depending on resources at its disposal. Capacity‑building of the Formed Police United was an important element of implementing complex mandates.
Pakistan had taken note of the new Global Field Support Strategy, he said. Though it welcomed the establishment of a Regional Support Centre in Entebbe, adding more global centres at global and regional levels was not supported unanimously. Apart from the cost‑benefit argument, decentralization of policy formulation and fragmentation in decision‑making were growing apprehensions. Policies and decisions could not be outsourced to peripheral establishments outside the United Nations Headquarters. Pakistan found the idea of a global and regional centre as somewhat mutually exclusive and contradictory. Greater coherence demanded more clarity and avoiding duplication.
DAYLENIS MORENO GUERRA ( Cuba), associating her statement with those made on behalf of the Non‑Aligned Movement and Rio Group, said the nature of peacekeeping operations being carried out over the last 10 years had led to a rise in the challenges facing the United Nations. Member States and the Secretariat needed to strictly adhere to the purposes and principles of the Charter, and the principles governing peacekeeping operations, including consent of the parties and non‑use of force. Respect for those principles was a basic prerequisite for what the United Nations did in that area. Given the current situation of the Organization’s ability to deal with the need for new peacekeeping operations, the mandates needed to be clear. The Special Committee was particularly relevant as that body was responsible for the overall consideration of peacekeeping issues, in particular ways to enhance the Organization’s capacity to carry out such operations.
Any guideline or document prepared by the Secretariat that had an impact on Member States’ participation in peacekeeping operations must be agreed upon in advance through an intergovernmental process. With a view to making peacekeeping operations more efficient and effective, mandates must be observed, she said. They must also be clearly defined and must take into account the realities on the ground. There was a growing interaction between host countries, operations, troop‑contributing countries, the Secretariat, and the Security Council. The host countries and the troop‑contributing countries needed to be involved at all stages in the operations, at the decision‑making level.
For some years now, the international community had been discussing protection of civilians in peacekeeping operations, and Cuba believed that the primary responsibility of protecting civilians lay with the States. Where United Nations troops were involved, they needed to take into account the need for operations to have clear and attainable mandates. The United Nations must take the context of peacekeeping operations into account, particularly the economic and social situations in countries concerned. Lasting peace could not be reached unless there was a serious effort made to combat hunger, poverty and underdevelopment. Otherwise it would be a failure. She welcomed the participation of regional partners in peacekeeping operations, as this could serve to strengthen the outcomes of operations the world over. Nevertheless, she reiterated that any troops deployed with the objective of peacekeeping must adhere to the purposes and principles of the Charter — namely consent of the parties, impartiality, the non‑use of force, and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity — whether those troops were deployed under the United Nations directly, or one of its regional partners.
AUGUSTINE UGOCHUKWU NWOSA ( Nigeria) commended the ongoing peacekeeping cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations. Such cooperation was in the long‑term interest of both bodies as a strong African Union peace and security architecture meant a more secure political space for other United Nations competing actions. It would also be a good return on United Nations investment in peace in the continent.
He said his country was convinced that there was a strong bond between peace, security, and development. Peacekeeping and peacebuilding, therefore, should interface with each other. Nevertheless, peacekeeping was not a substitute for genuine political engagement, the latter of which was the only foundation for sustainable peace. He added that the operational success of a mandate in the field was dependent on the level of coherence and coordination, strategic planning, the clarity and flexibility of the mandate and how realistic it was. All those factors, in turn, depended on the level of inclusiveness and broad‑based participation, from the mandate‑setting to the planning stage. For that reason, Nigeria called for an exclusive and consultative mandate formulation process that involved the Security Council, the most important and experienced troop contributing countries, the Secretariat and military experts.
TAMARA AL RIFAI, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that the new and ambitious approach to peacekeeping had raised the expectations of the populations in States hosting peacekeeping missions, both in terms of physical security and capacity‑building of local authorities. It had also brought about major challenges and showed the importance of developing a coherent approach to complex peacekeeping operations. The ICRC, as a neutral, independent and impartial humanitarian organization that was not part of the United Nations, had been interacting increasingly with the Organization — including in the area of international humanitarian law in countries affected by armed conflict. In that regard, she reminded the Committee that the protective legal framework of international humanitarian law also governed United Nations forces.
Actions taken by those peacekeepers in accordance with their mandate to protect civilians, in particular those actions aimed at inducing the parties to an armed conflict to comply with international humanitarian law, reflected Article 1 common to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. That principle was binding on the United Nations and on troop‑contributing countries and thus helped to ensure that effect was given to the principles of international humanitarian law. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations concept note on protection, presented in 2010, and its recent framework for a protection strategy at the mission level, had been important steps towards reaching a better definition of the kind of protection populations could realistically expect from peacekeeping operations.
The “blurring of roles and responsibilities” — a risk inherent in integrated missions — could have a negative impact not only on the different components of a mission but also on the entire humanitarian sector. The ICRC was therefore pleased to see that both of the Peacekeeping Department’s guidance documents emphasized the various roles of mission components. Clarifying those roles would enable the Department, in close cooperation with police‑contributing countries, to ensure that resources and training were sufficient. Further, making it clear to the host country and to its population what could be expected from peacekeepers within existing capacities was essential, and would improve understanding of the different roles and responsibilities of the various humanitarian organizations and of the peacekeeping mission.
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