Security Council leadership was critical in ensuring the full implementation of performance, training and conduct requirements for United Nations peacekeeping operations, the Organization’s peacekeeping chief told the Council this afternoon as it discussed strategic force generation.
In a briefing to Council members, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said generating uniformed personnel was a tireless and enormous task. It meant generating and rotating over 300 units with tens of thousands of troops and police from more than 120 countries. The creation of the Strategic Force Generation and Capability Planning Cell had been crucial to improvements. The Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System was a new element in force generation, currently involving 81 Member States serving in 21 units. Sufficient pledges had been received for a Vanguard Brigade of roughly 4,000 troops and police.
Specialized capabilities remained in short supply, however, including helicopters, quick reaction forces, and explosive ordnance disposal units, he said. He was also disappointed with the lack of progress towards the target for female peacekeepers. He encouraged Council members to present new, innovative contributions, including tailored and sustained training and capacity-building, to address mid- to long-term gaps. He also asked the Council to back efforts to foster a culture of continuous improvement and adaptation through strategic force generation and other reform efforts.
Briefing the Council from the perspective of a troop-contributing country, the representative of Bangladesh said the challenges concerning force generation and rapid deployment had been discussed for some time. The 2015 Report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations had highlighted the struggle to get sufficient forces on the ground quickly. He was encouraged that force generation and rapid deployment had been identified as one of the areas where substantive progress had been made.
Realistic, sequenced and prioritized mandates would deliver results only if the corresponding demands for capabilities and resources were sufficiently met, he said. Enhanced participation of female peacekeepers was integral to strategic force generation. Smart pledges, including in the form of South-South cooperation, could render tangible results, he said, and called on the Council to remain sensitized and responsive to suggestions and concerns of troop- and police-contributing countries and to ensure that the mandates given were matched with adequate resources and support.
The representative of Canada briefed the Council on the Vancouver Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial Conference, planned for 14 and 15 November 2017, said that participants would highlight the importance of integrated approaches to preventing violent conflict. They would aim to close capability gaps by announcing new pledges and taking stock of promises already made. In all discussions, the importance of gender perspectives and the participation of women at all levels would be seen as directly linked to operational effectiveness. Most fundamentally, he added, the importance of inclusive partnerships would be stressed.
During the ensuing debate, the representative of the United Kingdom said it was owed to the men and women of United Nations peacekeeping that operations had the right capabilities. Gaps should not be viewed as an unavoidable reality. Rather innovative solutions should be sought, including the use of technologies that fit the anticipated evolution of missions due to changing conditions on the ground. Future strategic force generation required better training, generation of the civilian and police components and other long-term efforts, he stressed.
Senegal’s representative stressed that evolving conditions, most notably the emergence of asymmetric threats, should be constantly taken into consideration. Shortages of engineering and medical units would increase in such a context, even though many countries had those capabilities, and alliances of Member States and regional forces should be used to fill gaps. The upcoming Vancouver conference could take up such joint approaches, and consider the participation of the African Rapid Reaction force in innovative partnerships, he said.
Speakers welcomed the creation of the Strategic Force Generation Cell and the Readiness System, which had led to improvements in deployment and called for efforts that helped missions adapt to realities on the ground, stressing that successful force generation was about deploying peacekeepers with the right capabilities at the right time.
Japan’s representative suggested that the Secretariat could play a role in “matchmaking” potential troop-contributing countries and donors, and in helping troop contributors prepare for challenges on the ground. Kazakhstan’s representative said maintaining a unique database on the capabilities and strengths of Member States could play a key role in force generation.
Several representatives called a strengthening of triangular consultations among the Council, troop- and police-contributing countries and the host country. The representative of Russian Federation underlined the critical importance not only of quality command capabilities of contingents, but also transport and other abilities. Close cooperation among all actors was needed to fill such gaps, he said, and stressed that consent of host countries should be sought for all peacekeeping activities on their territory.
Speakers deplored the lack in progress to have a better gender balance in peacekeeping personnel, with Italy’s representative saying that one of the biggest gaps identified was the role and presence of women. Participation of women at all levels was crucial for effectiveness, he stressed. The policy of zero tolerance of sexual abuse must be maintained.
The representatives of Ethiopia, Egypt, China, Ukraine, Sweden, Bolivia, United States, Uruguay and France also spoke.
The meeting started at 3:44 p.m. and ended at 5:54 p.m.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said generating uniformed personnel was a tireless and enormous task. It meant generating and rotating more than 300 units with tens of thousands of troops and police from over 120 countries. Dozens of Member States had made substantial investments in their capabilities for United Nations peacekeeping by improving their equipment, training and levels of readiness.
The creation of Strategic Force Generation and Capability Planning Cells had been crucial to improvements, he said. The commitment and pledges made during ministerial meetings in London and Paris had made it possible to fill gaps in current missions and to cope with new deployments. The Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System was a new element in force generation. Currently, 81 Member States had contributed and 21 units of the System had been deployed.
One of the key aims of strategic force generation efforts was to facilitate the more rapid deployment of uniformed capabilities, he said. It was a costly, complex and difficult process. Units accepted to the Rapid Deployment Level of the System could receive financial compensation for maintaining the readiness of their major equipment. Sufficient pledges had been received for a Vanguard Brigade of roughly 4,000 troops and police. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations was also developing an overarching rapid deployment concept and related training materials that would bring together all the civilian, military, police and support elements needed for rapid deployment.
He said specialized capabilities remained in short supply, including helicopters, quick reaction forces and explosive ordnance disposal units. He was disappointed with the lack of progress towards meeting the target for female peacekeepers, and he hoped that States would come to the Vancouver Defence ministerial meeting with concrete pledges and proposals in that regard. There was also a need for better linkages to regular force planning. He hoped to find creative ways to fill the most stubborn gaps, also by allowing troop-contributing countries to rotate scarce capabilities. Members States, however, needed to come forward, contribute new capabilities and help share the burden.
He encouraged Council members to present new, innovative contributions, including through the provision of tailored and sustained training and capacity-building efforts to address mid- to long-term capability gaps. The Council could take those gaps into account when drafting or renewing mandates. They should also engage collectively and individually to ensure that Host Governments fully comply with status-of-mission agreements. Council leadership was critical in ensuring the full implementation of performance, training and conduct requirements. In conclusion, he asked the Council to back efforts to foster a culture of continuous improvement and adaptation through strategic force generation and other reform efforts.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said the challenges concerning force generation and rapid deployment had been discussed for some time. The 2015 Report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations had highlighted the struggle to get sufficient forces on the ground quickly. As a lead troop- and police-contributing country, Bangladesh was encouraged that force generation and rapid deployment had been identified as one of the areas where substantive progress had been made. The creation of the Readiness System aimed to enhance collaboration between Member States and the Secretariat. Describing his country’s forces for peacekeeping, he said Bangladesh would be in a position to deploy some of those contingents at rapid deployment level in less than 60 days.
He said his country had established a sound working relationship with the Strategic Force Generation and Capability Planning Cell within the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The 2015 Summit on Peacekeeping had helped generate pledges by Member States for more than 40,000 police and military personnel, as well as enablers such as helicopters, engineering, logistics and transport units. He encouraged all troop- and police-contributing countries, including Council members, to consult the updated current and emerging uniformed capability requirements for peacekeeping and tailor their further pledges accordingly.
Realistic, sequenced and prioritized mandates would deliver results only if the corresponding demands for capabilities and resources were sufficiently met, he said. It would be advisable to review the current assessment criteria, frequency and consistency of the Readiness System to make sure that pledges registered remain deployable. Enhanced participation of female peacekeepers was integral to strategic force generation. In the national context, that was easier said than done. Bangladesh had made renewed pledges to developing language skills of its troops and police. Smart pledges, including in the form of South-South cooperation, could render tangible results. He called on the Council to remain sensitized and responsive to suggestions and concerns of troop- and police-contributing countries and to ensure that the mandates given were matched with adequate resources and support by all concerned.
MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada), briefing on the Vancouver Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial Conference, planned for 14 and 15 November 2017, said that addressing capability gaps in peacekeeping required more than just putting boots on the ground. It was about providing troops with the right training, capabilities and equipment in a timely fashion. Strategic force generation was fundamental to that effort and must be done through the cooperation of Member States and the Secretariat, working differently and better. Annual events to mobilize pledges to peacekeeping were now a key part of the effort, and the Vancouver event was on track to have the highest level of participation seen yet in such conferences, with equally high expectations of the outcome.
Voicing full agreement with the Secretary-General’s priority of conflict prevention, he said that participants in Vancouver would highlight the importance of integrated approaches to preventing violent conflict. They would aim to close capability gaps by announcing new pledges and taking stock of pledges already in place. They would aim to strengthen capabilities related to gender, police and peacekeepers, as well as to peacekeeping in a francophone environment. Concrete ways to strengthen partnerships in training and capacity-building would be discussed, and protection strategies would be reconsidered, including measures that could be taken to better address sexual exploitation and abuse and prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
Greater coherence in early warning and rapid deployment would be encouraged, he said, through consideration of the capabilities involved and means to shorten new mission start-up times. In all discussions, the importance of gender perspectives and the participation of women at all levels would be seen as directly linked to operational effectiveness. Most fundamentally, he added, the importance of inclusive partnerships would be stressed. In that context, he underlined the positive results of peer-to-peer joint training, the vital importance of working with regional organizations on a more equitable footing and the potential of joint “smart” pledges that could provide the predictability of supply needed to enhance a mission’s chance of success.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom), paying tribute to the men and women of United Nations peacekeeping, said it was owed to them that operations had the right capabilities. That was far from universally the case. Despite hard work to ameliorate the situation, much remained to be done. In making further progress, gaps should not be seen as an unavoidable reality and innovative solutions should be sought, including the use of technologies that fit the anticipated evolution of missions as conditions change on the ground. He was more concerned with missions having the right troops with the right kind of abilities — such as agility in Mali — than with their recruiting more troops. Future strategic force generation required better training, generation of the civilian and police components and other long-term efforts, he stressed.
FODÉ SECK (Senegal) said that it was critical that evolving conditions, most notably the emergence of asymmetric threats, be constantly taken into consideration. Shortages of engineering and medical units would be increasing in such a context, even though many countries had those capabilities. Alliances of Member States and regional forces should be used to fill such gaps, as Senegal and its partners had done in transitional situations such as awaiting start-ups or drawdowns of other operations. The upcoming Vancouver conference could take up such joint approaches, and consider the participation of the African Rapid Reaction force in innovative partnerships as well. He described the redeployment of Senegalese forces between Côte d’Ivoire and Central African Republic as an example of successfully flexible, gap-filling strategies. Troop contributors and police contributors needed to utilize more such flexible arrangements in the wake of the High-level Independent Panel’s report.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said force generation had been a challenge in which the bureaucratic arrangements in the Secretariat had been posing constraints. A new approach was needed and the establishment of the Readiness System had been a step in the right direction. Force generation was not only a technical issue for the Secretariat but needed political support from Member States. Timely information was, therefore, necessary for them to come to informed decisions. He looked forward to the upcoming conference in Vancouver, saying that while pledges from Member States were significant, it was also necessary that the pledges were implemented, which required regular updating by the Secretariat. Regional capabilities should also be supported, since forces in the region were often first responders. He hoped the Secretariat would develop options in that regard.
KORO BESSHO (Japan) welcomed the creation of the Strategic Force Generation Cell and the Readiness System and urged the Secretariat to continue to carry out realistic, cross-mission efforts that helped missions adapt to realities on the ground. Successful force generation was about deploying peacekeepers with the right capabilities at the right time. Effective, efficient training and capacity-building were essential to close the gap. Capacity-building efforts — largely bilateral in nature between troop-contributing countries with occasional donor support — could benefit from a cross-cutting, coordinated approach. The successful Force Generation Conference on United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) earlier in the year was a positive model that could be expanded to all other missions. The Secretariat should also play a more active role in “matchmaking” potential troop-contributing countries and donors, and in helping troop contributors prepare for challenges on the ground. The potential to use the Strategic Force Generation Cell and the Readiness System towards that end should be explored. Japan had begun discussions with Canada and Bangladesh on four-way cooperation among the Council, troop-contributing countries, the Secretariat and potential donor countries. Japan also co-hosted a preparatory meeting in August with Bangladesh for the Vancouver conference.
BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) fully endorsed the Secretary-General’s initiatives to reform the United Nations peacekeeping system focusing on effectiveness, accountability and new partnerships. Kazakhstan participated in the Readiness System which had proved to be “the right instrument” for ensuring preparedness for deployment, while providing the United Nations with contingents to fill in operational gaps in field missions. Maintaining a unique database on the capabilities and strengths of Member States, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations played a key role in force generation. Flexibility and partnerships could foster active engagement in peacekeeping by new countries and increase its effectiveness. The Department must embrace those concepts to ensure emergency operations responded rapidly to immediate crises while peacekeeping forces were under generation. The deployment of regional forces had proved effective as illustrated by the hybrid United Nations-African Union mission, and such cooperation should be strengthened as it led to concerted action to tackle not only security but also political, humanitarian and development challenges. He also highlighted the importance of triangular consultations among the Security Council, troop- and police-contributing countries and the Secretariat.
PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) affirmed the critical importance not only of quality command capabilities of contingents, but also transport and other capabilities. Close cooperation between all actors was needed for gaps in such capabilities to be filled. He stressed that consent of host countries should be sought for all peacekeeping activities on their territory, and tripartite cooperation among troop contributors, the Security Council and the Secretariat must be increased. The decisions of the Special Committee of the General Assembly on administrative matters must also be heeded when appropriate. In that context, he underlined that zero tolerance of sexual abuse must be maintained — but it was counterproductive to punish entire contingents for abuse committed by individuals. General training, as well as specialty training, was being provided to Russian peacekeepers and rapid deployment capabilities were being built. He stressed the importance of strengthening United Nations peacekeeping in order to maintained confidence in it.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said that generation of forces and capabilities relied on close tripartite consultation that took into account all elements of a conflict on a case-by-case basis. This was particularly important in the case of sequenced mandates. In matters of command chain, greater authority should be delegated to the field in the case of emergency decisions. In addition, performance assessment must be based on clear parameters in close consultations with contributing countries. Pointing out that gaps in protection capabilities had been shown by the vulnerability of peacekeepers in such areas as Mali, he stressed that such gaps must be filled with the utmost urgency. Egypt had provided much-needed equipment, including armoured vehicles and engineering units, along with general specialized training for its own personnel and those from other countries. The country had recently held events focused on training to meeting future needs. Egypt had also offered to host upcoming conferences to better secure peacekeeping needs.
WU HAITAO (China) stressed that in the process of force generation the principles of the United Nations Charter and peacekeeping guidelines should be strictly followed and host countries’ wishes must be respected. Troop and police contributors must be acknowledged and respected and tripartite consultations must be strengthened, with contributors given a bigger voice. Necessary training and resources must be made available, with partnership enhanced for those purposes. Mandates must be realistic and achievable, and the Secretariat must make sure administrative processes fulfil the needs of peacekeeping operations. He described China’s support to troop contributors through training, as well as preparation, of suitably equipped rapid-deployment units. He pledged China’s continued commitment to improvement of peacekeeping and appropriate force generation.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said that while the establishment of the Readiness System had provided peacekeeping operations with force generation flexibility and predictability, there was still room for improvement in efficiency and mandate delivery on the ground. Highlighting ways in which the Council could contribute, he said it should further the dialogue with troop- and police-contributing countries, including through its Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations and by continuing consultations during creation and renewal of peacekeeping mandates. Missions should be given clear, coherent, achievable, sequenced and resilient mandates in accordance with core peacekeeping tenets. To that end, the Council should receive timely and substantive reports from the Secretariat. In that regard, Ukraine supported the Secretary-General’s endeavour on restructuring the Secretariat’s peace and security pillar. To close capability gaps, attention should be payed to securing proper funding and providing sufficient aviation assets, as well as making use of advanced intelligence and modern technologies. Peacekeeping operations should also be provided with properly trained and equipped personnel capable and ready to take robust actions on the ground.
OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said peace operations that were realistic, flexible, and tailored to context had increased potential for success. It was important to be able to change course when things were not working, he explained, and that required frank input from troop- and police-contributing countries. As proposed by the Secretary-General, the field must be empowered and its leadership capacity strengthened. Towards that end, operational plans based on clear and measurable objectives should guide integrated mission planning and leadership. A stronger understanding of operational needs would also allow smaller contributing countries to provide unique capabilities. He went on to express deep concern about the increasing risks that blue helmets faced in difficult and complex environments. The Council, together with troop- and police-contributing countries, had a responsibility to ensure that commanders and troops sent to the field had the tools needed to protect both the communities they served and themselves. In addition, achieving the goal of a minimum of 15 per cent female observers and staff officers in the field would increase a mission’s effectiveness.
INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy) said his country was doing its part to contribute to peacekeeping operations as a participant and one of the most generous financial contributors. Italy was also active in training and in capacity-building in all kinds of areas. There was a need for well-trained troops and explosive ordnance disposal capacities, among other things. Technology was key in gathering information crucial for the safety of peacekeepers and the protection of civilians. One of the biggest gaps identified was the role and presence of women. Participation of women at all levels was crucial for effectiveness. There should be more emphasis on prevention, mediation and peacebuilding. Italy had joined the fight against sexual exploitation and abuse by contributing to the trust fund for victims, among other things.
PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) said force generation was a complex system as missions must be implemented in a timely manner in consultation with host countries and troop- and police-contributing countries. Technical and political analysis was needed to prepare for Council mandates. It was vital to make the process of mission analysis and planning less bureaucratic. To meet needs on the ground, it was important to choose troops that were well trained and specialized. Missions should be able to adapt to the challenges caused by terrorist groups. Peacekeeping missions could not succeed without the support of the host countries. Continuous coordination between the host country and the mission was essential.
AMY NOEL TACHCO (United States) said her country had played a central role in refocusing on force generation since 2015. The international community had come together in ministerial conferences during which it had committed to expand resources and address shortfalls. Delegations had made pledges that had materialized in concrete assets, including engineers and helicopters. Her country was addressing capability gaps through bilateral capacity-building programmes. Commitments made in Vancouver should be converted to actual deployments. Units should be fully trained in military and police activities, as well as tailored to the specific needs of the mission. The establishment of the Readiness System had led to improvement in the Organization’s performance. An improved early warning capacity would enable the United Nations to respond quickly and effectively to crises. A transparent analysis of performance would indicate capability gaps, which would enable troop-contributing countries to understand where improvement was needed.
LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay) affirmed the importance of strengthening strategic force generation for the success of missions. He welcomed recent efforts to increase force readiness and better supply contingents. The Council should focus more on determining necessary staffing and resources for mandates; trilateral consultation was essential for determining specific personnel and equipment needs. In addition, he said, provision of technological and other capabilities must not rely on one country but should be a cooperative effort. He stressed that pre-deployment training for tasks to be carried out in a mission was critical. Force generation should not be the only focus, but should be accompanied by attention to the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations once they were deployed. Commenting that national caveats could undermine the achievement of mandates, he stressed that clear assent must be obtained by all actors for them to be expected to fulfil obligations. He pledged his country’s further support to United Nations peacekeeping, according to its abilities.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), speaking in his national capacity, said that clarity, innovation and comprehensiveness were critical for successful peacekeeping force generation. It was important to react to the needs of current operations, but planning now must also be done for operations anticipated in the future. Pointing out that operations must have language skills appropriate for the country in which they were working, he described initiatives put forward by francophone countries to ensure those skills and invited others to join. Also describing joint partnership initiatives his country had participated in, he called for such initiatives to increase. Rapid deployment with appropriate resources and modernizing management techniques were other important elements, in addition to mobilization of police and civilian components, in which gender and language considerations were particularly important. He expressed France’s resolute commitment to continue strengthening strategic force generation.