In Meeting with Security Council, United Nations Peacekeeping Force Commanders Discuss Strategies for Meeting Operational Challenges
In Meeting with Security Council, United Nations Peacekeeping Force Commanders Discuss Strategies for Meeting Operational Challenges
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6789th Meeting (AM)
In Meeting with Security Council, United Nations Peacekeeping Force Commanders
Discuss Strategies for Meeting Operational Challenges
Generals from Missions in Africa, Haiti, Middle East Address Range
Of Issues, Including Civilian Protection, Training Standards, Clarity of Mandates
The Security Council held a discussion today with the military commanders of key United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa, the Middle East and Haiti, who highlighted important strategies for ensuring unity of command and synergy of efforts among the Organization’s 120,000 peacekeepers that would allow for their diverse qualities, skills and experience to have a “multiplying effect” on achieving common operational goals.
Attended by Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, the meeting featured presentations by the following force commanders: Lieutenant General Chander Prakash, Force Commander of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO); Major General Paolo Serra, Force Commander and Head of Mission of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL); Major General Moses Bisong Obi, Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS); and Major General Fernando Rodriguez Goulart, Force Commander of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
Opening the discussion, General Prakash said, although the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and troop-contributing countries had laid out pre-deployment procedures, training standards and a concept of operations, there were still situations in the field showing that more must be done. For instance, in civilian protection, MONUSCO soldiers were required to nurture vulnerable civilians in their area of operation. Yet, traditional officer training did not equip them with the range of skills or perhaps mental attitude to operate in that wide band.
A system covering the entire lifespan of activities — from preparation to deployment and de-induction — was needed to address operational performance, he said. Pre-deployment preparation was most critical and more emphasis must be placed on issues that made United Nations peacekeeping different from war fighting. In addition, more communication was needed between policymakers in national capitals and the missions, so that both contributor and receiver were “on the same page” when it came to understanding the requirements, constraints and performance of units.
Major General Serra discussed the challenges of leading a composite force towards common operational goals, underscoring that multinationality was an “added value”, as it testified to countries’ efforts to promote stability in southern Lebanon. To ensure interoperability among military personnel, it was important for Force members to communicate in one common working language. He stressed the need for a comprehensive doctrinal body, comprising manuals, policies and standard operating procedures.
In Lebanon, another challenge lay in the integration of civilian and military components within UNIFIL, he said, as well as in better integration of efforts among UNIFIL, the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon and the United Nations country team towards the goal of a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution to the conflict. In other areas, it was essential to accommodate multinationality in the composition of land forces. Multinationality could be a factor of strength for United Nations peace operations, working as a “force multiplier” if certain conditions were met.
Next, Major General Obi drew from his experience with the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and UNMISS, saying that, as Force Commander, one had to remain actively engaged with the militaries on both sides and work equally closely with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General at the political level. The language of the UNMISS mandate posed challenges. While the word “support” in the mandate related to peace consolidation, civilian protection and conflict mitigation, providing the Government of South Sudan with “support” created challenges.
By way of example, he said UNMISS was working hard to protect civilians, while the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) — the official military of South Sudan — was fighting in the border area. Yet, there was an impression that UNMISS was simply “backfilling” those SPLA efforts. In turn, the South Sudanese perceived that UNMISS was failing, as it had failed to prevent the Sudan Armed Forces from bombing civilians. However, the coordinated actions of UNMISS and SPLA during the last intercommunal crisis in Jonglei State was an example of how their cooperation had led to the protection of civilians. In terms of demonstrating Mission resolve and unity, the actions had been “undoubtedly very positive”.
Rounding out the presentations, Major General Goulart said MINUSTAH continued to work towards establishing the rule of law, restoring public safety and order, protecting civilians, supporting the democratic process and preserving human rights in Haiti. The military component of the mandate included aiding Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, demolishing unsafe buildings, as well as strengthening political and security-sector institutions.
He said joint operations with the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the Haitian National Police forces to prevent crime had addressed threats from ex-Haitian military to organize themselves into a second armed force. While success was evident, challenges remained. The Haitian National Police capacities must be strengthened, given that the Government and MINUSTAH’s common objective was the timely drawdown — and ultimate departure — of the Mission. That must happen without a security vacuum being created when the military component withdrew.
When the floor was opened for debate, representatives praised United Nations peacekeepers for carrying out their mandates in complex and demanding conditions, working to communicate effectively with all parties involved in any given circumstance. Indeed, it was a challenge for them to fulfil their diverse responsibilities in diverse geographical areas, coming from different backgrounds and communicating different languages.
Against that nuanced tableau, many speakers underlined the need for the Council to create clear peacekeeping mandates, arguing that there should be no latitude for “elastic” or subjective interpretation. Other speakers, including Azerbaijan’s delegate, said, while mandates must be achievable and tailored to the logistical and operational capabilities of peacekeepers, they also must envisage flexibility for larger inter-mission cooperation and rapid operational adjustments. He underlined the continued trilateral cooperation between the Council, the Secretariat and troop- and police-contributors, in that regard.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Morocco, Portugal, Pakistan, United States, Russian Federation, Colombia, Guatemala, India, Togo, South Africa, Germany, France, United Kingdom and China.
The Security Council meeting began at 10:09 a.m. and adjourned at 1:03 p.m.
The Security Council met today for a debate on United Nations peacekeeping operations, which featured presentations by force commanders.
Lieutenant General CHANDER PRAKASH, Force Commander of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), discussed the need for a system to assess and support common military standards in peacekeeping operations and avoid unit underperformance, explaining that a force component in a Chapter VII mission was comprised of troops from different regions, with different military orientations and holding varied types of equipment. The situation was complicated by issues of culture, language and perceptions of troop performance. The peacekeeping environment was becoming more complex and coming under increasing scrutiny, while the ability to absorb such differences and shortcomings was diminishing.
“The business of military peacekeeping is now a specific and demanding affair in its own right, especially when it comes to the priority 1 mandated task of civilian protection”, he said.
Despite the fact that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and troop-contributing countries had laid out pre-deployment procedures, training standards and a concept of operations, there were still some situations in the field missions which highlighted that more must be done. For instance, civilian protection required forces to be agile, operate in difficult terrain and under demanding conditions. Yet, not all contingents had been optimized to perform in that type of scenario, due to their training, equipment and mental psyche. Some still arrived with a mindset of peacekeeping as a “soft operational tour”.
In MONUSCO, peacekeeping required a soldier in uniform to nurture vulnerable civilians in his area of operation. Traditional officer training did not equip them with the range of skills or mental attitude to operate in that wide band.
As for what could be done, he first welcomed the Office of Military Affairs initiative to have all troop-contributing country contributions based on a “generic infantry battalion”. A system covering the entire lifespan of activities — from preparation to deployment and de-induction — was also needed to address issues related to operational performance. There were gaps in the existing structures. Pre-deployment preparation was most critical and more emphasis must be placed on issues that made United Nations peacekeeping different from war fighting.
In addition, there would be an advantage in facilitating greater communication between policymakers in national capitals and the missions, which were the beneficiaries of troops provided by them, he said, so that both contributor and receiver were “on the same page” when it came to understanding the requirements, constraints and performance of units. Also, a regular, formal feedback system was needed to keep troop contributors, through the Permanent Mission, informed about the operational performance of their troops. Finally, he stressed the need to have the very best leaders for future missions. To support that, a vigorous and honest personnel reporting system was needed. Troop-contributing countries also could be encouraged to incorporate a specific United Nations Peacekeeping module into the junior and senior staff college courses.
Major General PAOLO SERRA, Force Commander and Head of Mission of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), said that, as of June 2012, UNIFIL had 12,000 soldiers from 39 troop-contributing countries, as well as a small civilian component and 48 military observers. Military and civilian components worked to implement the mission’s mandate under resolution 1801 (2006). The area of operation was small, totalling around 1,026 square kilometres, bordered by the 120-kilometre long Blue Line to the south and south-east.
He said UNIFIL was currently implementing the recommendations of the Strategic Review — as presented in the Secretary-General’s 12 March 2012 letter to the Council — which had been conducted by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. UNIFIL was reviewing the possibility of troop adjustment, with a view to contributing to a leaner — but no less capable — Force, while ensuring that the Force’s ability to discharge its mandate was preserved. It also continued to work with the Lebanese Armed Forces, through the Strategic Dialogue, with a view to increasing the capacity of those Forces for assuming security control of the UNIFIL area of operations and Lebanese territorial waters. The focus remained on leveraging those efforts towards achieving a move to a permanent ceasefire.
Turning to the challenges of leading a composite Force towards common operational goals, he said multinationality was an “added value”, as it testified to countries’ concerted efforts to promote stability in southern Lebanon. To ensure interoperability among military personnel, it was important for Force members to communicate in one common working language. There was also a need for a comprehensive doctrinal body, comprising manuals, policies and standard operating procedures. Second, given that peacekeeping was made up of 120,000 personnel from 117 countries, a capability-driven approach to generating resources was essential, he said. In line with the Strategic Review recommendations, UNIFIL would focus on quality-oriented strategies, instead of quantity. Interoperability of material and equipment was required.
In addition, to better define the required equipment and self-sustainment standards for a more modern Force, he urged adopting an appropriate balance in the employment of United Nations-owned equipment, versus contingent-owned equipment. High turnover rates, rotation and retention of military and civilian personnel were a constant challenge. More clearly defined core operational standards would help in the design of basic training and support pre-deployment preparations. Another challenge was in the integration of civilian and military components within the Mission, as well as in securing better integration of efforts between UNIFIL, the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon and the United Nations country team towards the goal of a permanent ceasefire and long-term solution to the conflict.
With that in mind, to strengthen the relationship between the political and military leadership of UNIFIL, a civilian had been appointed as Deputy Head of Mission, he said. An integrated mission planning team, headed by the Deputy Head of Mission, also had been created. In other areas, he said it was essential to accommodate multinationality in the composition of land forces, as well as standardize the rotation cycle of maritime units to a minimum level of four to six months.
Multinationality could be a factor of strength for United Nations peace operations, he said, and work as a “force multiplier” if certain conditions were met. The key words were “unity of command” and “synergy of efforts”, where diverse qualities, skills and experience would have a multiplying effect in achieving common operational goals. Conveying that the Mission had benefitted greatly from the Council’s support, he said: “we are witnessing the calmest period Southern Lebanon has seen in many years”.
He said a key for success lay in the capability of the Lebanese Government to address security issues in the South Litani Sector. The Lebanese Armed Forces had proven to be a reliable institution and cooperation with them was at the core of UNIFIL’s mandate. Success hinged on addressing the root causes of conflict through a political process. Resolution 1701 (2006) was a tool which could only be effective if the political will of all parties was translated into action. He urged taking advantage of the window of opportunity that UNIFIL had created to make progress towards a permanent ceasefire and long-term solution to the conflict. UNFIL supported diplomatic efforts to reach a political solution, but it could not be the substitute for political progress.
Major General MOSES BISONG OBI, Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), drew from his experience with the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and UNMISS, saying that the challenges of dealing with a complex political environment stemmed, in part, from unresolved border demarcation and oil revenue-sharing commitments in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that had become pivotal issues in the most recent Sudan-South Sudan crisis.
In Abyei, Sudan, last year, UNMIS had faced the challenges of protecting civilians when parties to an agreement were in conflict. As Force Commander, one had to remain actively engaged with the militaries on both sides and work equally closely with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General at the political level. As a result, air routes were kept open and reinforcements, evacuations and humanitarian operations were made possible. Active engagement with all parties was also crucial in liquidating UNMIS and the challenges of protecting and sustaining troops during the South Kordofan State crisis.
However, in the current mission, the language of the UNMISS mandate also posed challenges. While the key word “support” in the mandate had related to peace consolidation, civilian protection and conflict mitigation, providing the Government of South Sudan with “support” created challenges. Part of the Mission’s “support” was protecting civilians while the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) was fighting in the border area. However, in fulfilling its mandate of support, there was a risk that UNMISS would be seen simply as “backfilling” the SPLA’s efforts, he said. In addition, the South Sudanese people had perceived that UNMISS was failing, as it failed to prevent the Sudan Armed Forces from bombing civilians. The absence of a border monitoring mechanism had not helped the issue, in that case. In addition, while UNMISS was beholden to ensure that humanitarian organizations could operate safely, some of those organizations were uncomfortable with that arrangement, as it conflicted with humanitarian principles.
“So often, one cannot win,” he said. Further, the dilemma of what UNMISS should do if the SPLA were threatening civilians demonstrated that, while the rules of engagement permitted using lethal force, to do so would be a “game changer” in terms of the current relationship with the SPLA.
Turning to the Jonglei intercommunal crisis in December and January, involving violent clashes surrounding cattle rustling, he said the Mission took the necessary measures to protect civilians and assess options on the ground and on the political level through negotiation and mediation. Lessons learned included the importance of early warning systems, advocacy and intervention, including drawing senior South Sudan Government leaders into the process and a commitment to get the SPLA to respond. However, surprises occurred during the crisis, including that communications were “not a great success”, compounded by a lack of helicopters. Given that UNMISS was just a few months into its work, there was also a lack of experienced staff and adequate troop numbers.
In the context of mission accomplishment, sadly, people lost their lives, he said. “But my sense is that many more would have perished had the Mission not responded in the way that it did,” he said. “Was it a pivotal event? Maybe. However, the coordinated actions of UNMISS and SPLA during the last intercommunal crisis in Jonglei State is an example of how UNMISS support and SPLA cooperation led to the protection of civilians. In terms of demonstrating Mission resolve and unity, the actions were undoubtedly very positive.”
Major General FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ GOULART, Force Commander of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), said the Mission continued to work towards establishing the rule of law, restoring public safety and order, protecting civilians, supporting the democratic process and preserving human rights. The Mission’s military component had been achieving steady progress, deterring violence and crimes through patrols and maintaining security among the local population.
The military component of the mandate included aiding Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, demolishing unsafe buildings, removing debris and repairing roads, alongside strengthening political and security-sector institutions. Joint operations with International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the Haitian National Police forces to prevent crime and violence had helped to address threats from ex-Haitian military to organize themselves into a second armed force, he said.
New plans for MINUSTAH’s maritime element included patrol boats and providing training to the Coast Guard, he said. After participating in the electoral process, MINUSTAH had completed in October 2011 its drawdown and had duly reconfigured its force.
While success was evident, challenges remained and the Haitian National Police capacities must be strengthened, he said, given that the Government of Haiti and MINUSTAH’s common objective was the timely drawdown and ultimate departure of the Mission. That must happen without a security vacuum being created when the military component withdrew, he said.
MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said peacekeeping was the most high-profile activity of the United Nations, efforts that were growing more complex in terms of human and financial resources. The multidimensional nature of peacekeeping required finding responses to changing needs and new challenges. In finding responses, it was vital to remain committed to the core principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, consent of the parties, and non-use of force. Civilian protection, a primary responsibility of States, required adequate training and resources when carried out by the United Nations. It was vital to adapt financial and material resources to Council mandates. Budgetary constraints should not hamper the effectiveness and efficiency of Council-mandated operations.
He said that, in addition to early warning systems, peacekeepers must have the means to defend themselves; those attacking peacekeepers must be brought to account. Any peacekeeping mission must base its action on impartiality and neutrality, and be carried out in line with Council mandates. Also, training at the national level, through modules prepared by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, should be complemented by knowledge-sharing among troop-contributing countries. He also highlighted importance of inter-mission cooperation. He asked force commanders to share their best practices acquired on the field. Morocco had contributed to peacekeeping operations almost since its independence.
JOÃO MARIA CABRAL ( Portugal) paid tribute to all United Nations peacekeepers, who deserved the Council’s admiration and support. Indeed, it was a challenge for peacekeepers to fulfil diverse tasks in diverse geographical areas coming from different backgrounds and using different languages. There was a need for a system to ensure common operational military standards. A precondition for that was to ensure adequate pre-deployment training, which took into account ground conditions, as well as protection of civilians and respect for cultural diversity.
Also, it was important that balanced rules of engagement be defined to reach common operational goals, he said. Political consent by the parties on the ground implied a shared understanding of objectives and cooperation. A mechanism could be used in each mission to monitor how parties were implementing their consent through meaningful cooperation. The Council could then react quickly to sudden changes. Peacekeepers were often the first peacebuilders, which should be noted by each mission. The military component played an important role in early efforts, and could not work properly without the full commitment of the host country in the context of national ownership.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HARROON ( Pakistan) lamented the recent injuries and fatalities in the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and MONUSCO. The incident in MONUSCO that injured 11 Pakistani peacekeepers would not dent his country’s commitment. Over the past 150 years, 130 Pakistani peacekeepers had given their lives. In that light, he emphasized the need to enhance safety and security of peacekeepers, and standardization, performance and adequate resource provision was critical to contribute to that. In addition, a detailed training module could be developed to assess operational readiness. Broad mandates were also challenging.
Peacekeeping operations were not like conventional warfare, with a well-defined adversary. The Security Council must ensure that complexities were simplified and operational strains worked out. “We can do so by laying down clear and achievable mandates not fraught with individual national priorities or complicated with unwieldy political propositions,” he said. Reinforcing triangular cooperation between the Security Council, the Secretariat and troop-contributing countries was essential, as was sustained dialogue during a drawdown or reconfiguration of a mission and sustained funding. “If we cannot win peace, we will not be able to keep or enforce it,” he said.
SUSAN RICE ( United States) said interaction with force commanders injected practical information into this Council’s discussion. Developments in peacekeeping had changed, with missions ending in Sudan and beginning in South Sudan and Syria. Working with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Council had taken steps to support missions. Her country’s top priority was to strengthen missions, which should have the necessary resources to train and equip personnel and have an exit strategy. Missions must have a clear resolve to use force when needed and to uphold the will of the Security Council.
Any contingents that were deficient and affected the success of a mission should be sent home, she said. Peacekeepers and mission staff must be held to the highest standards, particularly in regard to the unacceptable violations of sexual abuse and crimes against the people they served. Her country strongly supported the rapid implementation of the global field strategy and would work with troop-contributing countries to close the gaps in what missions needed, she said. Helicopter-contributing countries should be properly compensated for providing those highly essential assets. She hoped the new civilian protection training module, and other training tools, would improve performance in the field and hoped the decisions made in New York reflected the reality on the ground.
NIKITA Y. ZHUKOV ( Russian Federation) said United Nations peacekeeping was very much in demand, playing a role in the stabilization and peacebuilding of national Governments. Peacekeeping operations were constantly changing conceptually and operationally. It was important for them to react to new political realities. The United Nations had seen more demand for its resources, having been called on to tackle unprecedented tasks, which confirmed the vital nature of core principles. Peacekeepers must not get dragged into internal political conflicts. They must not support tacit parties to a conflict, which could call the United Nations reputation into question. That had happened.
He went on to say that peacekeeping mandates should be clear, with no latitude for “elastic” or subjective interpretation. Peacekeepers could carry out only primary peacebuilding tasks. On the problem of military expertise, he pointed to a Charter mechanism — the Military Staff Committee — whose activities should be stepped up. Improving peacekeeping operations meant tapping the resources of regional organizations, in line with Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. He hoped that today’s meeting would allow parties to “synchronize watches” for enhancing the effectiveness of United Nations peacekeeping operations.
FERNANDO ALZATE DONOSO ( Colombia) welcomed the precise use of peacekeeping operations and strengthened cooperation with regional operations. It was fundamental that such work be continued in the creation of common goals, planning and monitoring of implementation. The General Assembly and Security Council must develop their cooperation so that decisions adopted enjoyed both broad support, and coherence between mandates and resources. Challenges that peacekeepers faced were increasingly complex in terms of limitations on resources. The definition of mandates must address the political contexts of every situation and be linked to the availability of resources.
In that context, he welcomed efforts to improve communication between the Council, the Assembly, the Secretariat and troop contributors, underscoring that cooperation was needed to strengthen mutual partnership. Meetings with troop contributors prior to missions should be further strengthened. Also, the base of troop- and police-contributing countries must be broadened, as developing countries provided the majority of uniformed peacekeeping personnel. He highlighted the capacity-based approach in areas of intelligence, field assets, training and necessary acquisitions, in order to ensure timely deployment. That approach should be adopted to improve the security of troops on the ground. He said peacekeepers supported host country institutions and laid the foundation for peacebuilding. A coordinated approach to enhance dialogue with the Peacebuilding Commission would be useful in identifying shortcomings.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) said the Organization had faced a growing demand on resources while tackling an unprecedented number of challenges. In order to resolve those challenges, the attention of the Security Council, Member States and the Secretariat was essential. In addition, there should be clear mandates, which was the responsibility of the Council. The broad divide in terms of capacity, resources and training should be also addressed through better coordination of the Security Council, General Assembly and the Fifth Committee, he said.
He underscored the importance of improving the security and protection of personnel in the field, particularly in crisis situations or in complex political environments. Host Governments must respect the basic principles of operations. The commanders addressing the Council today mentioned the advantages and challenges of dealing with multinational troops. The troop-contributing countries could address some of the challenges described by preparing their troops and officers before they were integrated into an operation. For its part, Guatemala had established a training school with that in mind. He concluded by asking the commanders in what way the Council could better integrate their feedback.
VINAY KUMAR ( India) said under the complex circumstances surrounding some operations, it was important to remember that several mandates had included tasks that raised questions on the fundamental tenets of consent, placing peacekeepers in difficult legal circumstances and hampering effectiveness. The international community had to pool resources to mount operations. Their strength and legitimacy depended on the very collaborative nature of the venture. Leadership at Headquarters and in the field and coherence of objectives would determine the overall performance and achievements of mission mandates.
Peacekeeping involved a “global burden sharing”, underpinned by a partnership between the Secretariat, troop- and police-contributing countries and the Security Council. Protection of civilians was a task that deserved much more than what the international community had committed thus far, he said. “Leaving it to the hands of peacekeepers alone remains a half measure at best,” he said. “Our efforts in this regard must begin from where we faltered rather than to attempt universal thematic constructs.” As the largest peacekeepers contributor in United Nations history, his country was aware of changes in the last five decades. The challenge now was to build upon the peacekeeping legacy and ensure its relevance to current realities. The capacity to fulfil mandates depended on the provision of adequate resources, rational mandates and sourcing expertise from countries having experience most relevant for the conditions, in which peacekeepers were deployed. “This we must keep in mind and act accordingly,” he said.
AGSHIN MEHDIYEV ( Azerbaijan) said mandates guided peacekeepers, providing them with a clear vision of their tasks. As such, they must be realistic, achievable and tailored to the logistical and operational capabilities of peacekeepers. At the same time, depending on the security developments, mandates could envisage certain flexibility for larger inter-mission cooperation and rapid operational adjustments. He underlined the continued trilateral cooperation between the Council, the Secretariat and troop- and police-contributors in that regard.
He said coordination of activities and cooperation with the host country was a prerequisite for successful mandate implementation. Also, cultural and religious nuances in the host society impacted the success of peacekeeping. He underlined the importance of the right public perception of peacekeepers’ roles, and the relationship between military peacekeepers and the local population. To that end, mandates of the military should prioritize civilian protection. Emphasis could be placed on the development of military and police peacekeeping capacity of Member States, by the United Nations, and also through bilateral assistance programmes between States.
KODJO MENAN ( Togo) said peacekeeping operations had evolved since 1948. The nature of conflict had made it necessary for peacekeepers to become more efficient. Today’s presentations confirmed the need to adapt the mission to the context on the ground, as well as evolve from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, with troops that had proven skills. Deliberations had begun on the operationalization of peacekeeping operations. The complex nature of missions meant that they must marry efficacy, independence and success.
He reaffirmed that peacekeeping operations must have predictable and adequate resources to carry out their missions. As a troop-contributor, Togo was aware of the issue of delayed reimbursements, and he encouraged donor countries to support missions, so that financial issues did not hamper the smooth functioning of missions. There was a need for a clear mandate to avoid differing interpretations, especially when peacekeepers were accused of passivity. He welcomed inter-mission cooperation, as encouraging such efforts would help deal with cross-border armed groups. He welcomed initiatives undertaken to ensure police training and strengthening national capacity, especially in the areas of rule of law and the protection of women and children.
ZAHEER LAHER ( South Africa) said it was important to remember that peacekeeping was only a supportive mechanism and not an alternative to political strategies adopted by the Council. It was imperative for the Council, with the United Nations political and military leadership on the ground, to be continuously seized with mobilizing and maintaining political support of all stakeholders in a post-conflict situation. While peacekeepers must preserve stability, he noted that there were additional challenges in balancing effectiveness with political and developmental coherence. The Council must safeguard the military component from being overstretched and burdened with tasks that are not normally within its scope. It also had an important role in improving cooperation with regional organizations. The work of the United Nations and the African Union in Darfur and Somalia was an example of a “smart partnership”.
It was also important to reflect on issues that were pertinent to and had impact on troops on the ground, including the ability to optimally leverage the security umbrella provided by peacekeeping operations to find political solutions to conflicts; and ensuring that mandates matched resources and that the United Nations was adequately prepared and was capable of deploying in a timely manner the desired operational strength and capacity.
MIGUEL BERGER (Germany) said new challenges and changing environments underlined the need for flexibility in, and continuous adaptation of, the peacekeeping approach and it was essential that ideas were exchanged between the Council, the Secretariat and the missions on the ground. Building on recent reform efforts, there was a need to continue to adapt and strengthen peacekeeping to make it more effective.
“We should focus our attention on formulating clear, realistic and achievable mandates, on reviewing and adapting them in light of changing circumstances on the ground, as well as on preparing transitions and crafting exit strategies,” he said. Faster mission deployment and build-up and streamlining all aspects of field support were also needed. He asked the commanders present for their views on scarce assets and lessons learned in that regard and how they would assess the use of modern technology in the context of situational awareness. He also asked the commanders to relay their experience and opinions of having common operational military standards, and to discuss their experiences with coordination of a composite force and provide any recommendations.
GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) said his country was committed to enhancing United Nations peacekeeping capacities. It supported the participation of African States in peacekeeping operations through the African peacebuilding programme. Since the Franco-British 2009 initiative on operational follow-up, France continued to advocate enhanced military expertise, as well as better budgeting of peacekeeping. He highlighted recommendations in the Brahimi report in that context: inter-mission cooperation, civilian protection and the establishment of strategies for the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. Inter-mission cooperation should be strengthened, especially as it had “proven its worth” in West Africa, where cooperation between UNOCI and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) had been vital in the Côte d’Ivoire crisis. Cooperation must be done while respecting Council mandates and ensuring coordination with troop contributors.
He said civilian protection must be a main goal of peacekeeping mandates and peacekeepers must be trained for such work. It was vital for the chain of command to be respected. Peacekeepers must establish a safe environment, which required carrying out disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, including for children affected by conflict. The integration of women into the police and army would help protect against sexual violence. Each stage of a mission must better anticipate drawdown strategies. It was crucial that peacekeepers cooperate with United Nations country teams, so that peacekeeping and peacebuilding functions were properly distributed and duplication was avoided. On multilingualism, the Secretariat’s work was insufficient. Language skills fell short in missions in francophone countries. It was more important that French be spoken than it was for reports to be written in English for New York. “I know the Secretariat will do nothing, but sometimes it’s good to say what we think”.
MICHAEL TATHAM ( United Kingdom) agreed that the Council’s responsibility was to give peacekeeping missions clear, focused and realistic mandates to avoid “blurred” interpretation. A “drafting fix” in the Council could solve problems in New York, but create problems in the field. There was a need to improve the Council’s access to military advice, including in troop-contributing country meetings and it must consider if more could be done in that regard. He welcomed the force commanders’ views on what steps to take to better incorporate military advice into mission planning and ensure it was sustained. Further, United Nations missions must have the capacity to deter those who wished to derail peace, or harm civilians.
It had been said that peacekeepers must show a deterrent posture, he continued. The Secretary-General had laid out the benefits of a robust approach, which had been seen, for example, in Abyei. He asked the force commanders about the need for a robust approach. Did they see national caveats constraining their response? Better mission cooperation was key. During the Council’s visit to West Africa, it did not see local level cooperation with security forces. He asked if there was more that missions, working with local actors, could do to track armed groups over borders. On civilian protection, he said forces needed more agility, but they faced freedom of movement problems. He asked how the force commanders viewed the balance between flexibility and mobility, on one hand, and the need for consistency on the other. The primary responsibility for civilian protection rested with States.
Speaking in his national capacity, LI BAODONG ( China) said as complex changes emerged, better coordination and use of available resources was needed. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous had achieved much. Peacekeeping operations must adhere to principles of objectiveness and neutrality, with respect to the parties concerned in the host countries. Mandate planning for missions should be strengthened and should have clear priorities, he said, adding that long- and short-term issues should be addressed. Different components should strengthen their coordination with a clear division of labour, using their respective advantages concerning peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
In response to questions raised, Mr. OBI first addressed inter-mission cooperation and challenges. Using the Jonglei crisis as an example, he thanked those who provided needed helicopters, saying this was a good example of inter-mission cooperation. In another case involving injured troops, shared helicopters were used to reach them.
On border verification, cooperation with the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) was able to verify information and bombing incidents, enabling the mission to report to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Council. There will be a lot of areas of cooperation with UNAMID in the area of borders, some of which had already occurred on logistics support and information sharing, he said. All those cases had been possible through the global field support strategy that allowed support to move across missions.
Regarding the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), UNMISS also worked with MONUSCO and UNAMID, and had recently had meetings and was engaging in liaisons with the African Union and other stakeholders, he said.
Using technology would have been very useful in Jonglei, a rough terrain, he noted, responding to another question. Helicopters were being used, but were limited for reasons of range, weather and other variables. What was needed were tools to locate the movement of persons planning attacks. To monitor a border, technology was needed to examine cross-border movement.
On a question of limited resources, he said even without a full staff, troops were under clear instructions to protect civilians. He hoped requests for manpower and equipment were given proper attention.
Mr. PRAKASH, answering a question about standards, said establishing standards would help peacekeepers perform better. Turning to a question on common standards, he said on the ground there were various contingents that come with varied types of recruitment and methods. For instance, contingents trained for fighting, not peacekeeping, did not seem to understand the goal, he said, adding that those areas could all be standardized.
Mr. LADSOUS responded to the question on inter-mission cooperation, saying he had recently attended a memorial for seven soldiers killed in Côte d’Ivoire. In the course of one day, the Government and mission personnel had agreed to joint and parallel coordinated border patrols. Tactical helicopters could be used on both sides of the border, allowing commanders to step up a response to the lamentable attack.
Turning to another question, he said a policy of standards had been devised on infantry battalions, staff officers and medical units. Standards set the level of expectation and professional behaviour, he said. They were part of enhancing the quality of troops.
Responding to a question raising concerns about multilingualism, he said he was surprised that, in Haiti, the vast majority did not speak French, with only 20 per cent of troops able to speak French.
Speaking as President of the Council, Mr. LI ( China) said that the meeting had had a positive significance in helping to improve the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. Blue helmets had become a symbol of the United Nations and signified security and hope, he said.
Saying that peacekeepers worked in harsh dangerous conditions, he said, that on behalf of the Council, he thanked all the commanders and all peacekeepers around the world for their courage, perseverance and dedication.
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