B. Maintenance of international peace and security
Conflicts in recent years have grown more complex. The drivers of conflict have multiplied and the participation of non-State actors has increased. A brief overview of the United Nations engagement and achievements across the peace and security arena in the past year reflects the range and depth of the work under way. It also highlights the undisputable conclusion that our existing human, material and financial resources are overstretched. The Organization will not be able to meet the demands and expectations of its Members without the necessary resources and equitable global burden-sharing by its Members.
Since September 2011, the Organization has engaged in more than 20 peace processes, supported democratic transitions in various Arab countries, assisted in preparing and conducting elections in more than 50 Member States, and worked to build peace after conflict through 16 peacekeeping operations, 18 political field missions and United Nations country teams.
Conflict prevention, peace processes, democratic transitions and elections
Across the board, the Organization has strengthened critical systems for rapid response to conflict prevention such as the standby team of mediation experts, the mediation roster and the ad hoc field deployments of Headquarters staff. Since July 2011, there have been 56 requests for the standby team of mediation experts and over 37 requests from the roster. The Organization can now deploy expertise, logistical support and resources to the field in record time, often within 72 hours. Three regional offices, in West Africa, Central Asia and Central Africa, are playing a critical role in rapidly responding to rising tension, outbreaks of violence and political crises.
Supporting transitions in the Arab world has been a top priority over the past year. In Egypt and Tunisia, the Organization has provided technical assistance and expertise in organizing elections. Constituent assembly elections in Tunisia in October and parliamentary and presidential elections in Egypt from November 2011 to February 2012 and in May-June 2012, respectively, were vital steps in both countries’ transitions to democracy.
In Libya, the mediation efforts of my Special Envoy created a platform for the United Nations and regional organizations to fully engage in seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis while addressing humanitarian issues. Thanks to forward planning, the Organization was able to respond quickly to the request of the Security Council to deploy a needs-based, flexible support mission in Libya. Electoral advisers were deployed to Tripoli in September 2011 to support national preparations for the first democratic elections in almost 50 years, which were held on 7 July 2012 in an overall smooth and transparent manner.
To help to resolve the political crisis in Yemen and prevent a further deterioration of the situation, my Special Adviser exercised my good offices to promote dialogue and confidence-building on all sides. His efforts, undertaken in close collaboration with the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Security Council and others, resulted in the signing of an agreement on a political transition process on 23 November 2011. Within this framework, the United Nations supported the successful holding of elections on 21 February, leading to a peaceful transfer of power. Currently, the Organization is fully engaged in supporting the timely convening of an all-inclusive national dialogue conference.
The crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic continues unabated, threatening to engulf the entire region. Efforts to broker a political solution have been hampered by the parties’ unwillingness to renounce violence — indeed their readiness to escalate it, with little or no concern for civilian victims, and by persistent divisions within the Security Council. On 2 August, I announced with great regret the resignation of Mr. Kofi Annan as Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States to Syria. On 3 August, the General Assembly adopted a resolution on the Syrian Arab Republic, encouraging the Security Council to consider appropriate measures, calling on me and all relevant bodies to provide support for the efforts of the Joint Special Envoy to reach a political solution and requesting that I report to it within 15 days. The escalating violence prevented the United Nations Supervision Mission in the Syrian Arab Republic, the peacekeeping operation deployed to monitor a cessation of armed violence and support the implementation of the Joint Special Envoy’s six-point plan, from fully implementing its mandate, some Security Council members insisting on the Mission’s withdrawal. Nevertheless, the United Nations remains committed to pursuing, through diplomacy, an end to the violence and a Syrian-led solution that meets the legitimate democratic aspirations of its people. This can succeed only when the parties commit themselves to dialogue, and when the international community is strongly united in support.
In Iraq, the United Nations continues to promote political dialogue and national reconciliation, focusing in particular on the resolution of disputed internal boundaries, including the status of Kirkuk.
In Somalia in September 2011, key stakeholders signed the road map to end the transition, which was followed by the establishment of a permanent United Nations presence in Mogadishu. The United Nations is supporting the Government in achieving its transition priorities: drafting a constitution, reforming federal institutions, and establishing an inclusive and broad-based political authority in the country. Concurrently, through the United Nations Support Office for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the United Nations delivered essential logistical services to African Union peacekeepers in AMISOM and provided technical and expert advice to the African Union Commission on managing AMISOM.
In response to requests of Member States, following military coups d’état in Mali (March 2012) and Guinea-Bissau (April 2012), my Special Representatives in the region supported the mediation process undertaken by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to facilitate the early restoration of constitutional rule. In Maldives, I deployed my good offices to encourage leaders of the Government and political parties to resolve the political crisis surrounding the transfer of power from the President to the Vice-President through dialogue and consensus. In Madagascar, our support to regional efforts helped to bring about the political road map of September 2011, which paves the way to elections. In Malawi, following political violence and social tensions in July 2011, I designated a facilitator for the Malawi dialogue process between the Government and civil society organizations which resulted, in March 2012, in an agreement between the parties on a road map for transition.
In Nepal, the Organization has focused on encouraging a resolution to the issue of integrating Maoist combatants into the Nepal Army and the drafting of the constitution.
The reforms in Myanmar led by the President, Thein Sein, and the role of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in advancing the transition towards democracy, national reconciliation, and respect for human rights and the rule of law are encouraging. The process is still fragile, however, and many pieces will need to fall into place if the country is to successfully transition to democracy and achieve political reconciliation. The United Nations stands ready to support Myanmar, and I am ready to explore new and flexible ways to fulfil my good offices in a manner that will have the complete understanding and cooperation of the Government.
Demand for United Nations peacekeeping was high during the past year. In the Golan Heights, in southern Lebanon, in Cyprus, in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and in Western Sahara, United Nations peacekeepers oversaw the cessation of hostilities, while more durable, political solutions were being pursued. United Nations peacekeeping also provided support to national elections in 2011 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti and Liberia. In Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia and South Sudan, United Nations peacekeepers played a role in stabilization and the protection of civilians. They also provided capacity-building and early peacebuilding support to national authorities in political facilitation, human rights, police, justice, corrections, reform of security institutions, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, mine action and civil affairs.
In South Sudan, a new peacekeeping operation — the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) — was established and assisted national authorities in their efforts to prevent and contain intercommunal violence and related population displacement in Jonglei State. In the disputed area of Abyei, another new peacekeeping operation, the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), facilitated peaceful coexistence between communities, deterred further armed violence and protected civilians, pending the resolution of the territorial dispute between the Sudan and South Sudan. The United Nations also supported efforts towards the launching of a Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism along the common border of the Sudan and South Sudan. UNISFA, UNMISS and my Special Envoy for the Sudan and South Sudan provided support to the African Union High-level Implementation Panel, which leads the negotiations on post-secession arrangements.
Following reviews conducted at the request of the Security Council, the Secretariat will adjust the size and/or configuration of operations in Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire, Darfur, Haiti, Lebanon and Liberia from 2012 to 2014. These adjustments should allow for better response to the emerging challenges on the ground and the evolving needs of the national authorities. In Timor-Leste, the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste, the Government and its international development partners are preparing to phase out the mission at the end of the year after the completion of the current electoral cycle.
In order to address growing demands and capacity constraints, the United Nations is deepening and strengthening its strategic and operational collaboration on peacekeeping with organizations like the African Union, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, ECOWAS, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in eastern Africa and others. In 2011 the United Nations established a liaison office for peace and security in Brussels.
To further support its efforts in the peace and security arena, the Organization will complete, by the end of 2012, the preparation of common standards for, among others, infantry battalions and staff officers, and the elaboration of the next strategy of the United Nations on mine action, as well as comprehensive training for formed police units. The Organization has launched a review of its force generation system, with a view to adapting it better to current needs. It has made progress on implementing the global field support strategy, which is already delivering on the promise of increased effectiveness and efficiency, as reflected in the rapid mounting of new operations in Libya, South Sudan and the Syrian Arab Republic. Innovative practices such as regional use of aircraft chartered by the Organization for its peace and security operations enabled the Organization to reduce its air charter-related expenses by some US$ 61 million by the end of June 2011.
The continuing engagement of the Peacebuilding Commission and the programmes funded by the Peacebuilding Fund have made critical contributions to fostering stability in the countries that have requested support.
In Guinea and Liberia, the Peacebuilding Commission has used the statement of mutual commitments to guide its engagement and respond to critical peacebuilding priorities. In the case of Liberia, the Commission has focused on accelerating progress towards meeting key benchmarks set by the United Nations Mission in Liberia, capitalizing on synergies with the Peacebuilding Fund and cooperating closely with the United Nations system on the ground. The Commission also expanded its partnerships with regional bodies through a high-level, peer-to-peer learning event held in Kigali in November 2011, which was organized together with the Government of Rwanda and the African Development Bank.
During 2011, the Peacebuilding Fund allocated a total of $99.4 million. Sizeable allocations went to Burundi, for the reintegration of conflict-affected victims; Côte d’Ivoire, to re-establish State authority in conflict-affected regions; Guatemala, to reinforce judicial reforms; Guinea, to kick-start security sector reforms; Kyrgyzstan, to support national peacebuilding efforts following the inter-ethnic violence of June 2010; and Liberia, to help to consolidate security and justice. Efforts to promote gender mainstreaming and enhanced support for gender-responsive peacebuilding saw the launch in 2011 of a $5 million Gender Promotion Initiative, funded by the Peacebuilding Fund, in support of the United Nations seven-point action plan on women’s participation in peacebuilding.
With the exception of Guinea-Bissau, which reverted to political turmoil following a military coup in April 2012, none of the 17 countries that have been formally declared eligible to access the Fund since 2007 has relapsed into generalized war or witnessed State collapse. Member States and donors recommitted their support to the Fund at its annual stakeholders meeting in November.
Children and armed conflict
As the Organization and its Member States work together to address conflict, let us not forget one crucial dimension of this agenda: children and armed conflict. To date, 19 parties listed in my annual report on children and armed conflict as recruiting child soldiers have entered into action plans with the United Nations. This has contributed to the release of more than 40,000 children from the ranks of parties to conflict. Significant challenges remain, however. They include funding shortfalls for the long-term community-based reintegration needs of those children and the refusal of certain parties to enter into action plans with the United Nations. I urge all Member States to take action to protect children from grave violations in conflict-affected countries.