For information only - not an official document.
       27 November 2000
 Deputy Secretary-General Highlights United Nations’ Crisis Management
And Rapid Reaction Capacity at OSCE Ministerial Meeting 

VIENNA, 27 November (UN Information Service) -- Following is the text of the address of Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette to the Eighth Ministerial Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on the theme “Civilian Crisis Management: Rapid Reaction to Emerging Crises” delivered here this morning:

Thank you very much for that introduction, and for inviting me to join this important meeting.  

As Kofi Annan said at your Summit meeting last November, our two organisations were "born to work together", and they do so - in strengthening restored democracy, in conflict prevention, and, when that fails, in peace making and peace building.

Your topic this morning - crisis management and rapid reaction - is one to which the United Nations attaches great importance.  Experience has taught us that performance in this area depends on three things: good systems, good strategy and good partnerships.

Improving the systems, both at UN Headquarters and in the field, has been the main objective of the reforms the Secretary-General has introduced since he took office.   

At Headquarters, he has created the Senior Management Group, whose weekly meetings are attended by the heads, not only of all UN departments but also of the various Funds and Programmes - many of whom participate by video link from Geneva, Rome, Vienna or Nairobi.  Much of my own work, as Deputy Secretary-General, involves following up decisions taken in this group and ensuring that the UN functions as a coherent whole.

The Secretary-General has also regrouped the UN's activities under four executive committees, on each of which all the departments involved in the relevant area of activity are represented.  Two of these, dealing respectively with peace and security and with humanitarian affairs, are constantly involved in crisis management.  Both have an emphasis on early warning of crises and, where possible, prevention.  

The Information and Strategic Analysis Secretariat, proposed in the recent Brahimi Report on UN Peace Operations, is intended to strengthen this early warning capacity.  It would be a small, multidisciplinary unit, reporting directly to the Executive Committee for Peace and Security and thus servicing all the departments represented on that committee.

Taken together, these reforms have, I believe, done a lot to ensure that directives emanating from UN Headquarters are coherent and consistent.  But we also need good systems in the field, not only to implement these directives but also to respond flexibly to local circumstances and, not least, to provide Headquarters with a clear understanding of local needs.  Here too I think we have made a lot of progress. 

All the UN services working in a given country are now brought together in a country team, headed by a Resident Co-ordinator.  As a result, we now have much better systems in place to deal with a rapidly evolving situation, and to respond when a crisis breaks.

The Brahimi Report also contains important proposals for improving our capacity to deploy personnel rapidly and effectively, for instance by compiling a central roster of people qualified to serve in peace operations as special representatives of the Secretary-General, force commanders, police commissioners, and in other senior positions. 

We already have a system of standby arrangements with Member States for supplying peacekeeping forces, and we are currently working with them to improve this, as well as to build up a pool of civilian police officers, trained to use agreed operating procedures and to observe common performance standards. 

If the General Assembly gives us the additional resources the Secretary-General has asked for, we hope in due course to be able to move towards the "coherent brigade-size forces", ready for deployment at 30 or 90 days' notice (depending on the type of operation), which the Brahimi Report calls for.  

Meanwhile, we are working to formulate a comprehensive staffing strategy for civilian specialists in peace operations, with a view to simplifying and accelerating recruitment procedures. I should also mention the extraordinary contribution of UN Volunteers - more than 4,000 of whom have served, with dedication and competence, in 19 different peacekeeping operations since 1992.

Secondly, we need good strategies.  And here, the key lesson we have learnt from numerous complex emergencies in the last few years is that the response must be as complex - in the sense of comprehensive - as the crisis itself. 

There are always many dimensions to a conflict or post-conflict situation, and the way we handle each of them has an inescapable impact on the others.

For instance, training and monitoring local police forces is of little value without an honest and effective judiciary, a decent prison system, and some institutions that promote human rights. The people concerned with these three facets of life need to work much more closely together than they have done in the past. What is the good of building an efficient police force, if when you arrest criminals you have no jail to put them in, or only one that is run in a way offensive to human decency?  What is the good of arresting criminals at all, if they cannot be tried within a reasonable time, by a tribunal that conforms to minimum international standards, or if you lack the resources to collect evidence sufficient to secure a conviction?

And what use are elections, even with the most immaculate voting procedures, if candidates are not free to campaign, or the media to cover them; if the losers are not ready to accept the result, or if the winners treat their victory as a licence to ignore everyone else's views?  We cannot bring peace to a country through elections unless we also help it to build democratic institutions, and allow its people at least a glimpse of a solution to their social problems.

Or again, what good does it do to rebuild houses for refugees, if we are unable to persuade them that their safety will be guaranteed when they return?  And what good is it persuading them to return, if there is no prospect of economic development to employ their talents and feed their families?

In short, we have learnt the need for a much more holistic approach.  The only effective crisis response is a fully integrated one.  

Thirdly, we need good working partnerships.

At the United Nations, we are reaching out more and more to non-governmental organisations and the private sector. 

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee is a good example of a permanent partnership between the United Nations, the Red Cross, and a number of other key NGOs.  It is the principal policy-setting body in the humanitarian community.  We try to reproduce it as far as possible in the field, where those policies have to be implemented.  

NGOs now play a central role in planning and implementing our responses to crises in Central Asia and in the Horn of Africa. And we work with NGOs in crisis areas to improve security for our staff and theirs - an area, sadly, where improvement is badly needed.  

This year we launched a new disaster response programme, to provide and maintain mobile and satellite telephones and microwave links for humanitarian relief workers, in partnership with the Red Cross and the Ericsson corporation.  And the Security Council has enlisted the help of the private sector to try and choke off the illicit trade in diamonds which fuels conflict in Angola and other parts of Africa.

Increasingly, we are also committed to partnership between civilian and military services.  In fact, I would say that the title of this discussion, “Civilian Crisis Management”, is really too narrow.  Effective crisis management cannot be achieved by splitting the civilian from the military.

Our Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) maintains a Central Register of Military and Civil Defence Assets made available by national governments for crisis response.  Almost fifty governments have added assets to the Register.  National governments are now more fully committed than ever before to supporting integrated crisis response with military assets.  And we are more committed to putting those assets to good use.

Earlier this year, ten countries provided military assets to assist with relief efforts after the floods in Mozambique: not only heavy-lift helicopters for direct rescue and relief operations, but also medical support, search and rescue, transport, logistics, communications, mapping, assessment, and so on.

And as we speak, military assets – from countries in the region and beyond - are deployed in Cambodia to assist flood victims.  

Even when not engaged directly, the military is more and more willing and able to provide back-stop services.  Although less visible than the helicopter rescues seen on television, the most important military support in Mozambique may have been the air logistics capacity built up at short notice in various parts of Africa.  

To ensure that military and civilian assets are integrated as fully as possible, the United Nations operates three levels of joint military-civilian training and exercises.  Everything from professional culture to the inter-operability of communications equipment is covered.

Finally, we are strongly committed to partnership with other international organisations. We work with the development agencies and international financial institutions on contingency planning for emergencies.  But perhaps our most fruitful co-operation in crisis management is with regional organisations such as your own. 

Problems often arise when different organisations – or indeed different branches of the same organisation – are asked to deal with different aspects of a crisis.  

The extreme example is Bosnia.  Although the peace agreement there provided for an integrated response on the military side, the civilian side was chaos.  You at OSCE were responsible for elections.  UNHCR was to deal with returns.  Our peacekeeping department was to train and monitor the police.  And so on, all brought together by a High Representative with no line authority, and no budgetary hooks into his partners.  

To attribute all Bosnia's problems to this incoherent structure would be misleading.  But it certainly has not helped.

At least some of the lessons from Bosnia were learnt and have been applied in Kosovo, where all our organisations are working together in a single civilian administration under UN authority.  

Given the legacy of hatred and destruction we inherited, the system in Kosovo has really worked quite well. It shows what can be done when all concerned are genuinely committed to partnership.

The United Nations is more and more involved in such partnerships with regional organisations, not only in Europe but in Africa and elsewhere.  I have no doubt that they are here to stay as a feature of our response to crises throughout the world.  

Thank you very much.

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