3 July 2008


3 July 2008
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Special Committee on

Peacekeeping Operations

205th Meeting (PM)

concluding 2008 session, special committee on peacekeeping operations

adopts report, elects first ever woman chairperson


Members Pay Tribute to Outgoing Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno

Concluding its 2008 session this afternoon, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations adopted its report and elected U. Joy Ogwu of Nigeria as its Chairperson, the first woman ever to hold that position.  It also bid farewell to Jean-Marie Guéhenno, outgoing Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

The report recommended, among other things, the strengthening of the Office of Military Affairs within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, and welcomed the establishment of the post of Military Adviser at the level of Assistant Secretary-General.  It also underscored the vital importance of the military function within the Department and requested the Secretary-General to ensure it was appropriately and adequately staffed and structured.

According to the report, the Special Committee emphasized that security-sector reform was an important aspect of multidimensional peacekeeping operations.  Recognizing that the reform process must be nationally owned, the Special Committee stressed that the international community should avoid imposing external models and concentrate on strengthening the capacity of the host country to develop, manage and implement security-sector reform through inclusive consultation processes at all stages of transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding and sustainable development.

Under the report’s chapter on “Conduct and discipline”, the Special Committee, while affirming that any kind of misconduct by peacekeeping personnel was detrimental to the mission and image of the United Nations, recognized the importance of personnel welfare and recreation, bearing in mind that they also contributed to the strengthening of morale and discipline.  The provision of facilities relating to welfare and recreation should, therefore, be adequately prioritized during the establishment of peacekeeping missions.

The report’s proposals, recommendations and conclusions also focused on:  guiding principles, definitions and implementation of mandates; restructuring of peacekeeping; safety and security; conduct and discipline; strengthening operational capacity; strategies for complex peacekeeping operations; cooperation with troop-contributing countries; enhancement of African peacekeeping capacities; cooperation with regional arrangements; best practices; training; personnel matters; and financial issues and other matters.

At the outset of today’s meeting, the newly elected Chairperson, Ms. Ogwu, said that United Nations peacekeeping was the fulcrum for the preservation of international peace and security, but it was confronted by daunting challenges.  It was up to the Special Committee to tackle those challenges.  The mandate of peacekeepers must be clear and robust, and resources must be predictable and adequate.  It was also critically important to relate peacekeeping to peacebuilding, and to economic growth and development in countries emerging from conflict.

She paid a “well-deserved” tribute to Mr. Guéhenno, saying:  “He will be remembered as a voice for peace and the anchor of peacekeepers.”

The outgoing Under-Secretary-General thanked Special Committee members for their strong support, without which the enormous growth of peacekeeping operations over the past eight years, and their qualitative transformation, would not have been possible.  “For peacekeeping to be successful, it is crucial that the Secretariat, the Security Council, troop-contributing countries, police-contributing countries and the countries that provide the bulk of financing all be on the same page.”  It was important to go beyond differences and look at what had to be achieved for the sake of the people who had to be helped.

Looking at achievements, he said that, with the establishment of the Department of Field Support, there was now a stronger support system for peacekeeping, as well as a stronger military component in the Department.  Sexual exploitation and abuse could tarnish the image of the United Nations, and on that issue, progress had been made by working together.  “We have made a difference in many places where we were the last hope for people who had not much hope left.”

He said that challenges to be faced included the increasingly multidimensional nature of peacekeeping and the need for a broader focus in post-conflict situations, beyond mere peacekeeping efforts.  At the same time, it was necessary to be humble.  Peacekeeping should empower people, not overwhelm them.  Operations should be ambitious, but not overbearing.  A balance had to be found between being too passive and too overwhelming.  Unity was necessary in the region, in the Security Council and in the international community.  It was always possible to fudge words, but it was harder to fudge action.  The Blue Helmets should be given clear mandates by a unified international community.

Paying tribute to the 100,000 men and women deployed in 20 peacekeeping operations, he underlined the importance of human resources management, saying that the best people must be attracted and retained.  The peacekeepers came from different regions and backgrounds, were of different faiths, but were united in a common cause.  A common project of peacekeeping operations sent the signal that the world was capable of uniting.  The troops, police and civilian personnel meant nothing without the continued political support of the United Nations membership.

Susana Malcorra, new Head of the Department of Field Support, said she would profit from Mr. Guéhenno’s eight-year tenure, adding that she had come to peacekeeping during its sixtieth anniversary, while the size and quantity of operations was at the highest level and their complexity increasing.  There was an opportunity to work closely with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to enhance the focus on support and managerial issues.

The representative of Morocco, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the adoption of the report had been delayed once again.  Last year, the same situation had occurred, and the Non-Aligned Movement had expressed the hope that the delay would not set a precedent.  The Movement called on the Chair and Bureau to engage with delegations on how best to proceed in preparing the next draft report, taking into account lessons learned from the last two sessions.

The Special Committee also heard tributes paid to Mr. Guéhenno by the representatives of France, on behalf of the European Union; Mexico, on behalf of the Rio Group; and the Russian Federation.

Amr Elsherbini ( Egypt) submitted the draft report for endorsement.

The Special Committee was established by the General Assembly in 1965 to conduct a comprehensive review of all issues relating to peacekeeping.  It reports to the General Assembly through the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) and comprises 139 Member States, mostly past or current contributors of peacekeeping operations.  Thirteen other Member States, as well as the European Community, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), International Criminal Court, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), International Organization of la Francophone and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta participate as observers.

The next meeting of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations will take place at a date and time to be announced.

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