Without Capable, Dedicated Units Ready to Deploy to Any Peacekeeping Crisis, Inter-mission Cooperation Useful but Temporary Tool, Security Council Told

12 December 2012
SC/10854

Without Capable, Dedicated Units Ready to Deploy to Any Peacekeeping Crisis, Inter-mission Cooperation Useful but Temporary Tool, Security Council Told

12 December 2012
Security Council
SC/10854
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6886th Meeting (PM)

Without Capable, Dedicated Units Ready to Deploy to Any Peacekeeping Crisis,

Inter-mission Cooperation Useful but Temporary Tool, Security Council Told

 

Senior Officials Say Trend Can Leverage United Nations

Presence, Meet Needs, Fill Gaps in Planned or Emergency Scenarios

As cooperation between peacekeeping missions was increasingly in demand and more frequently used in times of both calm and crisis, the United Nations peacekeeping operations chief told the Security Council today that the measure should be used only as a flexible, temporary tool of necessity, not of choice.

Updating members on the latest trends, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said cooperation should be used to fill critical gaps or provide for a surge at times when missions were under extreme stress.  Time and space were key considerations when responding to a crisis so that the right resources were deployed to the right place at the right time and with the right capabilities.

In that connection, he said, delays in obtaining the required consent from troop- and police-contributing countries, host Governments and the Security Council weakened or even cancelled the desired impact of temporary reinforcements.

In an ideal world, he said, the tool of choice for strategic “over-the-horizon” reserves would be highly capable, self-contained and dedicated units, which would maintain high readiness to deploy to any peacekeeping crisis theatre at short notice.  “We cannot dream.  Such arrangements are not available at present.”

Nevertheless, the inter-mission cooperation tool was currently working, he said, pointing to a number of successful examples, including the transfer of needed troops, equipment and personnel between countries in the same region, which had filled gaps and met needs in planned and emergency scenarios, from Bosnia and Herzegovina to the current United Nations Support Mission in Syria (UNSMIS).

Ameerah Haq, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, readily agreed, telling Council members that the establishment of UNSMIS provided a useful lesson on the potential of inter-mission cooperation to expedite mission start-up.  Support from other missions in the Middle East had been critical for UNSMIS’ rapid build-up, allowing it to reach operational effectiveness within one month of mandate approval. 

She also shared the view that such cooperation should be seen as a temporary stop-gap and not a long-term solution.  Further, two core elements of the Global Field Support Strategy — the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe and the Global Service Centre in Brindisi — attested to the importance of putting in place the institutional architecture needed for the success of inter-mission cooperation.

“Peacekeeping should not be seen as a series of independent missions but as a global enterprise with which the United Nations can leverage its presence and bring about efficiency gains and synergies for the benefit of missions and their personnel,” she stressed, noting that the ultimate objective was the well-being of those who took on tremendous challenges in pursuit of the shared vision embodied in the United Nations Charter. 

Many speakers praised the success stories of mission cooperation, of the view that increased cooperation between missions operating in geographic proximity could make them more efficient and effective, particularly when it came to issues with cross-border or regional dimensions. 

Suggestions and concerns were also shared.  The representative of the Russian Federation, for example, said while cooperation was beneficial, strengthening one mission meant weakening another, and that meant changing its mandate, which required the Council’s consent.  In addition, no mission should risk the safety of its troops or equipment, and reform proposals must not have an impact on the quality of the operations, he said.

Similarly, the United States representative said that helping one mission should not hurt another.  While African peacekeeping missions had achieved many successes, including joint patrols and information sharing to combat cross-border threats by armed groups on the East and West coasts, he said that delays, such as those in Jonglei State in South Sudan, had grave consequences.

The Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs of India, a major troop contributing country, said that efforts to expand peacekeeping mandates had not included measures to bridge the resource gap, and cooperation had been promoted not to increase effectiveness but rather to cut down the resources available to peacekeeping missions.

Effective use of resources was important, said the representative of the United Kingdom, but the motivation was even greater effectiveness.  Given that armed groups and arms and drug trafficking frequently operated in border areas, peacekeeping missions on either side of the borders should have the tools they needed to tackle those problems, he said.

Germany’s representative saw the cooperation as an opportunity to share information and strategies within the scope of the missions’ respective mandates, of the view that focusing on the temporary transfer of troops and helicopters was too narrow.  Further, cooperation should not be used as an excuse for understaffing or underfunding a mission, but should extend beyond military matters to missions’ civilian components in peacebuilding, human rights and other areas.

The Minister of State and Foreign Affairs of Portugal also delivered a statement.

The representatives of South Africa, Pakistan, Colombia, Guatemala, China, Togo, France, Azerbaijan and Morocco also spoke.

The meeting began at 3:16 p.m. and ended at 5:18 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this afternoon to consider United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Briefings

HERVÉ LADSOUS, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that since there was no official agreed upon definition of inter-mission cooperation, practical modalities had been defined on a case-by-case basis.  As such, cooperation was a tool used by the Council and troop- and police-contributing countries to implement mandates, as seen when United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) personnel supported the United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNMIBH) and, most recently, when planning the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS).

Cooperation had been stepped up recently due to the recurrent gap in critical equipment, as well as calls from the General Assembly and the Council for increased coordination and the ongoing financial crisis, he said, mentioning, as  examples, the transfer of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) troops to the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) in December 2011 and of two helicopters of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in January.

Following the briefing last week with the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support and the Security Council Working Group, lessons learned included that delays in obtaining the required consent from troop- and police-contributing countries, host Governments and the Security Council weakened or even cancelled the desired impact of temporary reinforcements.  In addition, cooperation had been used as a temporary measure to fill critical gaps or provide assistance when missions were under extreme stress, as seen in the transfer of helicopters from MONUSCO to UNMISS during a crisis in Jonglei State, he said.

Cooperation, he continued, could also be used in connection with scheduled or predictable events, such as elections, or with unforeseen events, including natural disasters or security crises.  Inter-mission cooperation should be a tool of choice and not of necessity, especially when used to fill critical gaps.  It should be implemented on a temporary basis and not as a substitute to providing missions with the required military and police capabilities on a dedicated basis.

Time and space were key considerations when responding to a crisis so that the right resources were deployed to the right place at the right time and with the right capabilities, he said.  Inter-mission cooperation filled gaps and was, at times, a tool of necessity, not of choice.

In an ideal world, he said, the tool of choice for strategic “over-the-horizon” reserves would be highly capable, self-contained and dedicated units, which would maintain high readiness to deploy to any peacekeeping crisis theatre at short notice.  “We cannot dream.  Such arrangements are not available at present,” he said.

While consent of concerned actors would remain the key enabling principle for inter-mission cooperation, its flexible and versatile character must be preserved to ensure continuing relevance, he said.  Cooperation was increasingly in demand and used with increasing frequency.

It was important to learn from past difficulties and to build on successes in inter-mission cooperation to ensure the development of its full potential to support missions, he said, reiterating that value of exploring the setting up of a light, flexible framework for that purpose, which would allow the Secretariat, the Security Council and troop- and police-contributing countries to plan for inter-mission cooperation on a contingency basis.

AMEERAH HAQ, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, said that inter-mission cooperation in the context of mission support related to ensuring that troops and civilian personnel, and military and other assets, could be redeployed on short notice; that they could be sustained in a temporary site due to a mission start-up or crisis; and, ultimately, that they could be returned to the original location and intended use.  It must be remembered, importantly, that redeployed troops must be provided with adequate shelter and other life-sustaining requirements.  For helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft shared between missions, fuel, maintenance and other logistical support must be anticipated. 

She said that UNSMIS provided a useful lesson on the potential of inter-mission cooperation to expedite mission start-up, as support from other missions in the Middle East had been critical for the mission’s rapid build-up, allowing it to reach operational effectiveness within one month of mandate approval.  Handling of procurement and banking services and managing freight forwarding were possible only because of the assistance of other missions, while care had been taken to ensure that that assistance had minimal impact on the ability of the other missions to carry out their mandates.

She shared the view, however, that such cooperation should always be seen as a temporary stop-gap and not as a long-term solution.  Short-term arrangements, in addition, always worked best when arrangements were already in place that allowed for flexibility and inter-mission exchange, particularly in the sharing of commercially contracted aircraft during a crisis, which had occurred in several instances in recent years.  Describing other successful instances of cooperation, she said that collaboration among missions in Sudan had allowed critical support to reach troops despite long-entrenched customs and visa-related obstacles, particularly in the establishment of the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei. 

Two core components of the Global Field Support Strategy — the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe and the Global Service Centre in Brindisi — attested to the importance of putting in place the institutional architecture that allowed inter-mission cooperation to succeed, she said.  “Peacekeeping should not be seen as a series of independent missions, but as a global enterprise with which the United Nations can leverage its presence and bring about efficiency gains and synergies for the benefit of missions and their personnel,” she stressed, noting that the ultimate objective of such considerations was the well-being of those who took on tremendous challenges in pursuit of the shared vision embodied in the United Nations Charter.

Statements

PAULO PORTAS, Minister of State and Foreign Affairs of Portugal, reviewed the events of “two particularly intense years” during which his country had served as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.  The Council, in that time, had made decisive contributions to the establishment of democratic transitions in Libya and Yemen.  While it had been unable to provide an effective contribution to ending the violence in Syria, and had likewise seen the continuation of stalled negotiations between Israel and Palestine, it had played an important role in stabilizing the situations in Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia.  The Council’s active support to South Sudan had also contributed to the State-building efforts of its people and the country’s ultimate accession to the United Nations.

He said that the Council’s debate today dealt with new challenges, efficiency and “increasing our capacities in facing them”.  Among those, he highlighted the growing complexity and diversity of the tasks mandated to peacekeeping operations, for which an increasingly integrated and coordinated approach was needed.  On the other hand, many of the problems facing the missions had an increasingly regional dimension, “which demands regional approaches and regional answers if our collective action is to have any chance of success”. In West Africa, inter-mission cooperation — which had already proved its usefulness — would be particularly relevant when discussing an integrated strategy for the Sahel.  Indeed, a regional approach was paramount, in particular, where drug trafficking, piracy, terrorism and other forms of transnational organized crime were concerned.

“We know, by experience, the particularly perverse role that international criminal organizations play in effectively undermining legitimate Governments,” he went on, pointing to the disruption of democratic electoral processes in places such as Guinea-Bissau.  To prevent such phenomena, inter-mission cooperation was particularly useful in detecting, at an early stage, signs of such threats and allowing the Council to act preventatively.  In addition, closer cooperation between missions in terms of fulfilling surge and capacity needs, and helping in fast mission start-ups, deserved further development.  Naturally, such inter-mission cooperation could only proceed if troop- and police-contributing countries fully shared and agreed to such developments.

PAVAN KAPOOR, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs of India, said his country had partnered with the United Nations in peacekeeping operations since the 1950s, with some 100,000 Indian soldiers having served in more than 40 countries.  Today, India was among the largest contributors to those missions.  The nature of conflict had changed significantly in recent decades, as had peacekeeping mandates, which now included peacebuilding and nation-building duties.  At the same time, resource allocation had failed to keep pace with the mandate expansion, and missions were called on to do more with less.

During its two years on the Council, India had seen efforts to expand peacekeeping mandates without measures to bridge the resource gap, he said.  Inter-mission cooperation had been promoted, not to increase effectiveness, but rather to cut down the resources available to peacekeeping missions.  Cross-borrowing of equipment was part of that trend.  He agreed that cooperation among neighbouring missions could enhance effectiveness, and that the adoption of regional and subregional strategies could help in the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Resource management strategies with a cross-border perspective in crisis situations could be continued, he said, but those measures must be crafted in consultation with mission leaders and host countries.  Inter-mission cooperation faced substantial challenges, among them, that the collective consent of host nations in a disturbed neighbourhood carried implications for the overall peace process.  Transfer of troops and equipment across missions would need to address financial issues and would involve legal complexities related to immunity and safeguards.  Troop contributors would need to calibrate their positions on a case-by-case basis.  In sum, India supported the potential of inter-mission cooperation as a way to enhance information exchange and integrated strategies in a regional context.

ZAHEER LAHER (South Africa), noting that he represented a troop-contributing country, said that inter-mission cooperation was a useful tool when missions met unforeseen challenges.  However, that tool should not be a substitute for long-term planning, or for the creation of achievable, adequately resourced mandates.  Standard operating procedures should also be utilized in sharing arrangements which could, for example, be planned in a triangular manner, involving the two missions concerned and the Secretariat.  Joint planning, information sharing and other inter-mission cooperation could provide many benefits as well. 

MOHAMMAD MASOOD KHAN (Pakistan) stressed the importance of strong partnerships in peacekeeping, as well as cooperation between missions operating in geographic proximity.  As a troop contributing country, Pakistan approved of such sharing on a case-by-case basis.  It had approved, for example, expeditious transfers of troops between UNMIL and UNOCI.  However, such cooperation could only be done for the short-term and administrative and operational control issues must be adequately considered.  As cooperation arrangements required different financial modalities, supplementary funding should be considered.  Suitability and training of troops also must be considered, and the transfer of special-forces and engineering units should not be encouraged.  Information-sharing should be systematized and regular.  He stressed that all cooperation should work within established rules and procedures.

FERNANDO ALZATE (Colombia) said that in the case of unforeseen constraints of missions, inter-mission cooperation could provide timely support, as part of a coherent strategy to address shortages.  However, cooperation such as information-sharing must be sustained and systematized and should be part of mandated arrangements, for the purpose of promoting integrated regional strategies.  In all cooperation, financial aspects must be taken into account as well as the interest of troop contributors and host countries.  UNOCI and UNMIL should continue to enhance their cooperation in border areas.  Cooperation between all relevant parts of the United Nations system was important in mission coordination, and the Security Council could contribute to making inter-mission coordination more effective by planning for unforeseen needs and setting up mechanisms for sharing resources without undermining the operations that were lending them.

GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala), also noting his country’s contributions to peacekeeping operations, said that any response to the numerous challenges of peacekeeping required the cooperation of the Council, the Secretariat and troop-contributing countries.  Questions needed to be answered about duration of such cooperation and other considerations.  It was important to explore all factors that impeded inter-mission cooperation, as one could not deny the need for it, due to financial constraints and the increase in trans-boundary conflicts.  Framework agreements that took into account the interests of all stakeholders could be useful.  Lessons drawn from past cooperation experiences should feed into future arrangements, and cooperation should be foreseen in situations where multiple missions were in the same region, particularly if they shared borders. 

GUO XIAOMEI (China) said that more demands had recently been made on United Nations peacekeeping while resources were scarcer.  In that context, cooperation could bring about flexibility and other positive results.  Information sharing was important, but such authorization must be given by the Council, and effects on the countries concerned should be considered.  It was also necessary to avoid lessening the capacity of any mission that lent assets.  At the same time, limited resources should be optimized.  Adequate planning was also critical, as was close consultation with the troop-contributing countries.

KODJO MENAN (Togo) said that inter-mission cooperation was of great importance at a time when peacekeeping operations faced numerous challenges, notably of a financial nature.  Such cooperation could also speed deployment in emergency situations.  It had shown itself to be of benefit in Africa, including in the sharing of resources between UNMIL and UNOCI, as well as in information-sharing between various missions on the continent.  While welcoming such cooperation, he stressed that sight must not be lost of such parameters as effectiveness, respect for mandates and consultation with troop-contributing countries.  It should be ensured, therefore, that redeployment was of a fixed duration, that there was planning regarding command, and that sharing was done among missions in the same region.  Sharing of information and intelligence was of particular importance in situations of cross-border crime and insurgencies.  For the best results, cooperation possibilities should be considered when mandates were drawn up.

PHILIPPE BERTOUX (France) said inter-mission cooperation not only optimized ever-shrinking resources, but was a flexible tool, as could be seen in its effective use in Africa, with the timely transfer of personnel and helicopters during the post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, and in the Middle East, with UNSMIS.  Preserving that flexibility meant progress should be made in taking the entire mission into account, including the multidimensional nature of complex situations, such as cross-border threats by the Lords Resistance Army.  In addition, there was a need for a clearer legal basis for direct cooperation.  Inter-mission cooperation could and should make further progress to streamline efforts to maintaining peace and security.

JOSEPH TORSELLA ( United States) said that in some cases the only way for the United Nations to respond rapidly was to draw on resources from another mission, as it was untenable to jeopardize lives while waiting to build up a new mission.  It did not make sense for each mission to create its own administrative support structure, and thus, there should be greater inter-mission cooperation.  At the same time, helping one mission should not hurt another.  While African peacekeeping missions had achieved many successes, including joint patrols and information sharing to combat cross-border threats by armed groups on the east and west coasts, delays, such as those in Jonglei State in South Sudan, had grave consequences.

MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said mission assistance had achieved successes, but the speed of deployment was critical.  Peacekeepers operating in the same region could benefit from sharing information and experiences of addressing common threats.  Effective use of resources was important, but the motivation behind cooperation was greater effectiveness.  The force commanders on the ground were the driving force of inter-mission cooperation.  Tackling the Lords Resistance Army had led to the establishment of a joint radio network among missions in the region, he said, citing that and other examples of beneficial cooperation.  While some Council members had reservations, he said cooperation offered temporary solutions and should not be used to address shortages long-term.  Cooperation, as currently practiced by the United Nations, had adhered to peacekeeping principles.  Given that armed groups and arms and drug trafficking frequently operated in border areas, peacekeeping missions on either side of the borders should have the tools they needed to tackle those problems.

PETR ILIICHEV ( Russian Federation) said that in many areas of support, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations truly faced a shortage of resources, required by each operation in order to fulfil its mandate.  The United Nations must do its part, including creating reasonable mandates and approving adequate budgets.  Political, legal and financial conditions should also be implemented.  The Security Council’s consent was another concern.  Strengthening a mission meant weakening another, and that meant changing its mandate, which could only be done with Council agreement.  It was also important to calculate all possible scenarios, he said, pointing out that no mission should risk the safety of its troops or equipment.  In addition, reform proposals must not adversely affect the quality of service of peacekeeping operations.

CHRISTOPHE EICK ( Germany) said the concept and reality of peacekeeping had evolved, with cooperation being a new element.  Cooperation was a useful tool that could save resources, he said, pointing to examples in South Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire, and it provided opportunities to share information and strategies within the scope of the missions’ respective mandates.  Focusing on the temporary transfer of troops and helicopters was too narrow.  Cooperation must not be an excuse for understaffing or underfunding a mission, he said, noting that military support needed detailed preparation.  Beyond the military aspect, cooperation between civil components in the areas of peacebuilding and human rights should be considered.

TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said that increased cooperation between missions operating in geographic proximity could make them more efficient and effective, particularly when it came to issues with cross-border or regional dimensions.  Information exchange, joint assessment and planning, development of common strategies, joint patrolling, monitoring and training, and shared border responsibility should be endorsed by the Council and foreseen in the creation of mandates.  It should also be the subject of consultation with all stakeholders.  Assets transfers between missions, however, should only be a temporary stop-gap measure between proximate missions and applied on a case-by-case basis.  “One mission’s capabilities must not be used as a permanent substitute of another’s operation and logistical deficiency,” he stressed.  Sharing arrangements, with that caveat, could be pre-planned in case the need arose, so that all the complexities were considered in advance. 

MOHAMMED LOULICHKI (Morocco), Council President, speaking in his national capacity, paid homage to peacekeepers around the world and reiterated condolences for those lives that had been lost.  He underlined the increased requirements and complexity of global peacekeeping carried out by the United Nations, which frequently required rapidly deployable military reserves.  Based on his country’s experience in contributing to 13 peacekeeping operations since 1960, inter-mission cooperation could add value in many complex areas, such as civilian protection.  Describing discussions of the issue in the Council’s working group on peacekeeping, he said that inter-mission cooperation was a provisional solution to fill urgent gaps in personnel and materiel.  Even if it was an ad hoc solution, planning ahead of such cooperation was needed.  Another factor that contributed to success included close cooperation between the missions, troop contributors and host countries.  The modalities of inter-mission cooperation were still developing; his country would continue to follow the matter with great interest.

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