B. Maintenance of international peace and security
The past year clearly demonstrated the complexity of contemporary conflict and the challenges involved in mounting coherent, effective international responses. Multiple sources of instability interact in countries such as Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Mali and the countries of the Sahel, Somalia, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen. They include sectarianism; criminality; extremism; exclusion; corruption; pressures related to resources, demographics and the environment; weak State capacity and legitimacy; rampant human rights violations; unstable neighbours; the use of explosive weapons against civilians; and porous borders permitting illicit flows of weapons, narcotics and people. These factors, combined with technological innovation, have strengthened the hand of armed groups and criminal and extremist elements, providing them with enhanced means to do significant harm, including through asymmetric tactics. Such groups tend to be well equipped and well resourced, with unprecedented transnational reach, and are sometimes ideologically driven. Some of these environments pose substantially more complex challenges than has been the case in the past.
Civilians have paid an unacceptably heavy price in the past year, particularly in cases where the international community is divided and lacks the collective political will to act, such as that of the Syrian Arab Republic. The normative framework to protect civilians, including the concept of “responsibility to protect” and discussions about “responsibility while protecting”, has continued to be the subject of debate, not always matched by action. I have engaged the Organization in a reflection on strengthening our own capacity to respond to crisis situations and protect human rights through follow-up to the Internal Review Panel on United Nations action in Sri Lanka . We have agreed to reaffirm the vision of our collective responsibilities, reinvigorate our engagement with Member States, develop more effective headquarters response mechanisms, and strengthen our country presence, human rights capacity and information management. I call on Member States to be ready to do their vital part, to muster the will to act in a united manner to end egregious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. We cannot allow ourselves to become so accustomed to civilians bearing the brunt of violence that we lose our sense of outrage and our will to act.
The range of actors seeking to play a part in the response to these challenges continues to expand and diversify. It has become common for the United Nations to operate alongside or in formal partnership with other international and regional players. These arrangements have worked well where the actors involved have common goals, clear comparative advantages and complementary political leverage, and coordinate effectively. But more remains to be done to ensure that international, regional and subregional actors work together and apply lessons about effective burden-sharing in complex environments.
Throughout the past year, the United Nations acted through a variety of mechanisms, including 15 peacekeeping operations, 14 field-based special political missions, 10 special envoys and advisers, and many United Nations country teams around the world. The United Nations stepped up its efforts to improve the effectiveness of its activities in the area of peace and security, including through implementation of the civilian capacities initiative, the designation of a global focal point for police, justice and corrections in post-conflict and other crisis situations and the implementation of internal policies on peacekeeping transitions and on human rights due diligence in the provision of assistance to national security forces.
Conflict prevention and mediation
The United Nations was at the forefront of a variety of prevention and mediation endeavours during the past year, thanks in part to improvements in our mediation support capacity, new and stronger partnerships with the League of Arab States, the African Union, the European Union, the Organization of American States and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, as well as strong political backing from Member States. The Organization was well positioned to respond rapidly to rising tensions through its regional offices in West Africa, Central Africa and Central Asia and through its standby team of mediation experts. In recognition of the continuing and regrettable underrepresentation of women in peace processes, the Organization also stepped up its efforts to build the capacity of women’s groups to engage in these processes, where possible.
In Africa, I appointed a Special Envoy — the first woman United Nations mediator — to support implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the region. I visited the region with the President of the World Bank to draw attention to the related challenges of peace, stability and development. Recognizing the interconnected security, governance, humanitarian and development challenges facing countries in the Sahel, the United Nations developed an integrated strategy for the region. The Organization also worked closely with the African Union and other partners towards the goal of restoring constitutional order in the Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau and Mali following the unconstitutional changes of government and consequent instability in those countries.
Extensive mediation support was provided in Yemen to assist in implementing the negotiated, peaceful transfer of power and in launching the national dialogue. In Lebanon, the United Nations continued to support the efforts of the authorities to preserve security, stability and national unity. Facilitating progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process remained a top priority and I hope that the recent resumption of direct talks will lead to a peaceful settlement and a two-State solution. The Organization’s joint efforts with the League of Arab States to bring about an end to the violence in the Syrian Arab Republic and to launch a process leading to a political solution yielded little in the face of the continuing political impasse on the ground, in the region and in the Security Council, as well as tragic military escalation. Efforts to mitigate the regional consequences of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic, including the burden on neighbouring countries of the outpouring of refugees, were similarly insufficient given the magnitude of the crisis.
In Europe, I continued to offer my good offices to the parties in Cyprus to find a comprehensive settlement and also actively supported the Geneva international discussions on Georgia and the South Caucasus, altogether with the European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We also stepped up efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution to the “name issue” between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In Central Asia, working in close partnership with the World Bank, the Organization fostered increasingly close cooperation on water management. In South America, where peace talks between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia were launched in August 2012, the United Nations supported the contribution of civil society through dialogue mechanisms.
Democratic transitions and elections
There were some alarming threats to hard-won gains in democratic governance in the past year, including restrictions on civil society and some reversals of constitutional order, most dramatically in Egypt. I urge all sides to concentrate on ending the violence and incitement, fostering genuinely inclusive reconciliation, and re-establishing the rule of law. There were also cases, such as Myanmar and Somalia, where tangible progress was made. The Organization offered support to political transitions in a wide array of cases.
Since September 2012, the Organization supported the preparation and conduct of elections in 55 Member States, at their request or with a mandate from the Security Council. In Afghanistan, we assisted the Independent Election Commission in reform of the electoral legal framework, voter registration, and capacity-building. Special attention was paid to ensuring broad participation to prevent disenfranchisement as a result of security challenges, thereby building confidence in the electoral processes due in 2014 and 2015. In Iraq, the United Nations continued to provide technical advice and to build the capacity of the Independent High Electoral Commission. Significant progress was made regarding the participation of women and the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
In Somalia, the Organization supported the finalization of the Provisional Constitution and the establishment of a new Federal Parliament, bringing an eight-year political transition to an end. In June 2013, a new United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia was established to provide political and strategic support to the Somali authorities as they work to consolidate peace and security and establish new federal structures, in advance of national elections scheduled for 2016. Sadly, some United Nations colleagues paid for these efforts with their lives and the people of Somalia continue to endure unacceptable levels of instability. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya supported the handover from the National Transitional Council to the elected General National Congress in August 2012. In addition, support was provided to the constitutional process, to elections for the drafting assembly and to the continued building and reform of the institutions of the new Libyan State. My Special Representative for West Africa contributed to dispelling the climate of mistrust between the Government and the opposition in Guinea and reopening talks on preparations for legislative elections. In Kenya, in the period leading to the general elections of March 2013, the United Nations maintained regular contacts with the key political leaders to promote respect for the rule of law. In Burundi, the United Nations facilitated the adoption of an inclusive road map for the preparation of the 2015 presidential elections. Through sustained engagement, the United Nations also promoted political dialogue and national reconciliation in Bangladesh, Maldives and Myanmar.
The complexity of contemporary conflict poses challenges that go to the heart of peacekeeping. In the past year, the Organization was mandated to deploy peacekeeping missions in volatile and non-permissive environments, where hostilities were ongoing and political settlements had not yet been achieved. In some cases, counter-terrorism operations were under way. In the Syrian Arab Republic, lack of progress towards a political resolution and the intensification of armed violence limited the ability of the United Nations Supervision Mission in the Syrian Arab Republic to implement its mandate, which was not renewed beyond four months. The impact of the situation in that country was felt by other peacekeeping operations in the region. While exercising its important role in maintaining the 1974 ceasefire between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force adjusted its operations and posture to continue implementing its mandate while minimizing the risk to personnel from ongoing clashes between members of the Syrian Arab Armed Forces and the armed opposition inside the area of separation. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon increased its vigilance in southern Lebanon. In May 2013, the Security Council authorized the deployment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali, mandated, inter alia, to support a national political dialogue and electoral process, as well as the extension of State authority, to stabilize key population centres and protect civilians. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the capture of Goma in November 2012 by the armed group known as the 23 March Movement (M23) triggered regional and international re-engagement, leading to the signature by 11 countries of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework . The Security Council authorized the establishment of an , tasked, on an exceptional basis and without creating a precedent or any prejudice to the agreed principles of peacekeeping, to conduct targeted offensive operations with the aim of nintervention brigade within the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congoeutralizing and disarming armed groups.
The tasks assigned to the Organization in Security Council resolutions 2098 (2013) and 2100 (2013) represent an evolution, not a revolution, in United Nations peacekeeping. Any use of force by United Nations peacekeepers must be in the context of a clear political process or political agreement and in keeping with international humanitarian law. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and elsewhere, the core principles of peacekeeping will continue to apply on the understanding that impartiality does not mean neutrality in the face of atrocities, and that maintaining consent does not mean that spoilers can prevent United Nations missions from implementing their mandate. Moreover, as United Nations peacekeeping deploys into new contexts, appropriate tools are needed to address new or intensified threats, including force enablers and multipliers, improved command and control and more effective information and analysis tools.
Other peacekeeping operations faced volatile security situations in the past year. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan continued to support the protection of civilians amid escalating intercommunal violence in Jonglei State. Despite these challenges, transitional political milestones were reached, including the completion of the national census and constitutional review. With the support of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei, the operationalization of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone in March 2013 contributed to improved relations between the Sudan and South Sudan. In Darfur, Sudan, evolving conflict dynamics allowed the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) to focus on areas with the highest security threats, while lowering the troop and police ceiling. Nevertheless, the intensification of violence in some parts of Darfur, including the targeting of UNAMID troops, has highlighted the need to increase the mission’s capacity to deter and address threats to civilians.
A number of peacekeeping operations began a process of rightsizing or drawdown. After 14 years of a Security Council-mandated presence in Timor-Leste, the last United Nations mission, the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste, completed its mandate in December 2012. The United Nations and Timor-Leste will now enter into a new phase in their relationship with a focus on development and continued institution-building. In Liberia, the successful conduct of the second post-conflict election allowed the Organization to begin reducing the military component of the United Nations Mission in Liberia while increasing its police presence to enhance the capacity of the national law enforcement institutions. Similarly, progress in consolidating peace in Côte d’Ivoire enabled the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire to withdraw one battalion in 2013. In Haiti, improved security has allowed the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti to reduce its uniformed component and refocus efforts on the consolidation of political stability and the rule of law.
The capacity of special political and peacekeeping missions to address the specific needs of women and children was enhanced through deploying women advisers and child protection advisers and strengthening training. My Special Representatives increased advocacy at the national level to build capacity and strengthen prevention and response, including through monitoring and reporting. With United Nations support, the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, South Sudan and Myanmar signed action plans to end conflict-related violations against children.
Partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, such as the African Union, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, remained an important feature of United Nations peacekeeping efforts. This will continue as operations deploy to volatile environments. The United Nations continued to support the African Union’s capacity to plan, deploy and manage its peace support operations, including through the United Nations Office to the African Union. In Somalia, some 17,700 troops and police officers of the African Union Mission in Somalia were deployed and sustained with the Organization’s support to advance peace in the country. The United Nations also provided guidance and technical expertise to the African Union Commission on the operationalization of the African Standby Force and contributed to the development of key doctrinal and training material. The European Union’s approval of a plan of action to enhance its support to United Nations peacekeeping and the revitalization of the United Nations-European Union Steering Committee on Crisis Management were particularly noteworthy.
The United Nations continued to strengthen support mechanisms for peacekeeping operations, including a strategic guidance framework for international police and generic capability standards for infantry battalions and staff officers. There were improvements to the governance and management framework of the global field support strategy and its key performance indicators to help ensure that support to the field is faster, of higher quality and more effective. Vacancy rates for international staff in peacekeeping and special political missions dropped to 12.6 per cent in March 2013, down from a high of 33.8 per cent in 2008.
Recognizing the multiple sources of instability, the high risk of relapse and the long-term nature of peacebuilding, my report to the Security Council on peacebuilding in the aftermath of conflict sets out new priority directions, emphasizing the importance of inclusivity, institution-building and sustained international support. The challenging task facing the Peacebuilding Commission, the Peacebuilding Fund and the Peacebuilding Support Office was underlined in the past year by significant setbacks in several countries, notably the Central African Republic and Guinea-Bissau. In other cases, however, the Commission and the Fund were able to advance the consolidation of peace, lending political and financial support to the effective and peaceful participation by political parties in elections in Sierra Leone, financing the retirement of 3,928 military personnel in Guinea, contributing to the convening of the Burundi partners’ conference, and supporting the first justice and security hub in Liberia. The Peacebuilding Fund was also used to support critical political transition or peace consolidation efforts in Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, the Niger, Somalia and Yemen. It raised more than $80 million in 2012, its highest amount since 2008.