28 May 2003


Press Release

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Fourth Committee

24th Meeting (PM)



The General Assembly would endorse the latest proposals and recommendations of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations to improve the United Nations peacekeeping capacity, under the terms of a resolution adopted by the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this afternoon, as it concluded its work for the fifty-seventh session. 

The Assembly would also urge Member States, the Secretariat and relevant organs of the United Nations to take steps to implement the recommendations, which are contained in Special Committee’s report of its March 2003 session (document A/57/767).  It would decide that the Special Committee, in accordance with its mandate, continue its efforts for a comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations, review the implementation of its previous proposals and consider new proposals to enhance the United Nations capacity in the field of peacekeeping operations.

By further terms of the draft adopted today (document A/C.4/57/L.21) the Assembly would reiterate that those Member States that become personnel contributors to United Nations peacekeeping operations in years to come or participate in the future in the Special Committee for three consecutive years as observers would, upon request in writing to the Special Committee’s Chairman, become members at its following session.

In its report, the Special Committee -- the only United Nations forum mandated to comprehensively review the whole question of peacekeeping operations -- reaffirmed the primary responsibility of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security and noted that peacekeeping continues to be one of the key instruments available to the Organization to discharge that responsibility. 

Ahmed Abu Zeid (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the Committee’s Rapporteur, introduced the Special Committee’s report, as well as the draft resolution.

Summary of Report

The report contains a summary of the Committee’s general debate and working group, as well as proposals, recommendations and conclusions in the following areas:  guiding principles, definitions and implementation of mandates; cooperation with troop contributors; enhancing the United Nations capacity in peacekeeping; lessons learned; system-wide information and analysis; operational planning and Integrated Mission Task Forces; rapid deployment; recruitment; training; civilian police; gender and peacekeeping; children and peacekeeping; public information; comprehensive strategies for complex peacekeeping operations; quick impact projects; mine action; safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel; cooperation with regional arrangements; financial issues; and conduct and disciplinary issues.

The report finds that since the end of the cold war, there has been an increase in the number of complex peacekeeping operations.  The Special Committee notes that the Council has recently mandated peacekeeping operations that have included, in addition to the traditional tasks of monitoring and reporting, a number of other activities.  In that regard, the Committee stresses the importance of an effective Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) that is efficiently structured and adequately staffed.

Among its conclusions is the importance of consistently applying principles and standards the Committee has set forth for the establishment and conduct of peacekeeping operations.  It also emphasizes the need to consider those principles, as well as peacekeeping definitions, in a systematic fashion.  New proposals or conditions concerning peacekeeping operations should be discussed in the Committee. 

Under the section on guiding principles, definitions and implementation of mandates, the Committee stresses that peacekeeping operations should strictly observe the purposes and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.  Peacekeeping operations should not be used as a substitute for addressing the root causes of conflict.  Those causes should be addressed in a coherent, well-planned, coordinated and comprehensive manner, by means of political, social and developmental instruments.  Consideration should also be given to ways in which those efforts can continue without interruption after the departure of a peacekeeping operation, so as to ensure a smooth transition to lasting peace and security.

Also, according to the report, the Committee stresses that the Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.  It notes the statements of the Council President on 29 December 1998 (document S/PRST/1998/38) and 20 February 2001 (document S/PRST/2001/5) with regard to the inclusion, as appropriate, of peace-building elements in the mandates of peacekeeping operations, with a view to ensuring a smooth transition to a successful post-conflict phase.  The Committee stresses the importance of those elements being explicitly defined and clearly identified before they are incorporated in the mandates of peacekeeping operations, whenever appropriate.  The Committee emphasizes the role of the General Assembly in the formulation of post-conflict peace-building activities.

The report also stresses the importance of providing peacekeeping operations with clearly defined mandates, objectives and command structures, as well as secure financing, in support of efforts to achieve peaceful solutions to conflicts.  It also highlights the need to ensure, in the formulation and implementation of mandates, congruity among mandates, resources and objectives.  It emphasizes further that, when changes are made to an existing mandate, commensurate changes should be made to the resources available to a peacekeeping operation to carry out its new mandate.  Changes in the mandate of any ongoing mission should be based on a thorough and timely reassessment of the Security Council, including military advice, of the implications on the ground.  Such changes in mandates should occur after thorough discussion between contributing countries and the Security Council. 

The Committee urges the Secretariat to consult with the troop-contributing countries in a timely manner while planning any change in the tasks, mission-specific rules of engagement, operational concepts or command and control structure, which impact on the personnel, equipment, training and logistics requirements, in order to enable troop contributors to give their advice in the planning process and to ensure that their troops have the capacity to meet these new demands.  It also urges the Secretariat to consult with the troop contributors when planning a drawdown of troops.

In terms of enhancing the United Nations capacity for peacekeeping, the Committee stresses the importance of closer cooperation between the Secretariat and Member States.  It welcomes the six issues recommended in the Secretary-General’s report (document A/57/711), namely:  integrating lessons learned and best practices into operational planning and coordination; developing and implementing comprehensive strategies for complex peacekeeping operations; enhancing rapid deployment capacity; strengthening training; minimizing disciplinary problems; and strengthening regional peacekeeping capacities, particularly in Africa. 

Regarding rapid deployment, the Committee reiterates the validity of the goal for the United Nations to enhance its capacity to deploy peacekeeping operations within 30 days, or 90 days in the case of complex peacekeeping operations, after the adoption of a mandate.  It reiterates its belief that, in order to meet these time frames, the Secretariat must have the capacity to act in a timely manner on the three critical and interdependent aspects of rapid deployment –- personnel, material readiness and funding -– once it becomes clear that a peacekeeping operation is likely to be established. 

Also, the Committee agrees on the need to further improve the rapid-deployment capacity of the military, civilian police and civilian components and recommends that consultations with potential troop contributors start once it becomes clear that a peacekeeping operation is likely to be established.  It recognizes the importance of improving pre-deployment training and preparations of the United Nations on-call mechanisms, as well as providing for better cooperation among the field units of the troop contributors, and it urges the Secretariat to focus on those issues. 

In the area of training, the Committee supports enhancing the coordination of the DPKO’s military, civilian police and civilian training activities and requests that the Secretary-General report, at the next session, on ways to further improve this coordination, including the feasibility of establishing a single multidimensional training unit, closely linked to the peacekeeping Best Practices Unit.  The Committee, therefore, encourages the strengthening of training coordination at United Nations Headquarters.  It also fully endorses the establishment of mission training cells and would welcome more detailed information on how these will function.  It supports the Department’s new focus on providing national and regional peacekeeping training centres with the necessary guidance for training peacekeeping personnel.  Also welcome was the introduction of Standardized Generic Training Modules. 

With respect to comprehensive strategies for complex peacekeeping operations, the Committee acknowledges the need for additional research and analysis on the interrelated areas of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, security sector reform and the strengthening of the rule of law in post-conflict environments.  These are among the many challenges faced by complex peace operations, including in the political, social, economic and humanitarian areas.  While the operations themselves may not be responsible for any or all aspects of such efforts, there is a need for conceptual clarity and an appraisal of the expertise and capacities that exist within and outside the United Nations system to ensure operational coherence on the ground.

The report finds that the Committee places the highest priority on the safety and security of the United Nations and associated peacekeeping personnel.  It is gravely concerned about the continuing attacks and other acts of violence against them and stresses the need for host countries and others concerned to take all appropriate steps to ensure their safety and security, including a legal regime that ensures that there is no impunity for the perpetrators of such attacks.  Noting that the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel has been ratified or acceded to by 63 States, the Committee urges those States that have not yet done so to consider becoming parties to the Convention as soon as possible.  Considering that the majority of recent incidents involving the death or injury of peacekeeping personnel are a result of accidents, the Committee welcomes the establishment of a safety council to promote safety awareness.

Given the Committee’s emphasis on the need to ensure respect for the standard of conduct expected of United Nations peacekeepers, the Committee recommends that consideration be given to the development of common principles and guidelines for accountability.  These principles and guidelines should draw on lessons learned from peacekeeping operations and should be incorporated into the training of United Nations personnel deployed in peacekeeping missions.  Bearing in mind the shared responsibility of the United Nations and troop-contributing countries for their personnel, the Committee emphasizes that cases of alleged misconduct should be handled through cooperation between troop contributors and the mission leadership.  It urges the Secretariat to involve the contributing country concerned from the very outset in any investigation and urges it to make the outcome of the investigation, including all related evidence, available to that country, in order to enable its national judicial authorities to take legal steps.

Under other matters, the Committee welcomes the appointment of the DPKO HIV/AIDS Adviser and looks forward to the standardization of awareness and prevention programmes in peacekeeping missions.  It further welcomes the establishment of HIV/AIDS focal points within missions.  Recognizing that HIV/AIDS is a major health concern for both peacekeepers and local residents, and is also a politically sensitive issue, the Committee approves the education and protection efforts developed by the Peacekeeping Department and endorses its proposed research projects to measure the impact of AIDS intervention at the mission level.  The Committee also notes that prospective peacekeepers displaying clinical AIDS symptoms are precluded from deployment and recommends that this policy be continued.

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For information media. Not an official record.