For information only - not an official document.
17 January 2001



NEW YORK, 16 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a statement made today by Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette to a Security Council open debate on strengthening cooperation with troop-contributing countries:

We meet today to address an issue of central importance to our efforts at reforming and revitalizing United Nations peacekeeping for a new era. This meeting reflects a recognition that, without strong, close, and constructive relations among the Security Council, the Secretariat and the countries which supply the troops for our missions, we cannot expect to find success in this vital endeavour.

Over the past year, we have seen renewed political will by the international community to act to prevent conflict through the instrument of peacekeeping. At the same time, our operations are being asked to discharge increasingly complex tasks, often in hostile environments. In this context, it is more important than ever that there be the closest possible cooperation between key elements in the peacekeeping machinery.

In the General Assembly, in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, and in the Security Council, the international community has repeatedly acknowledged the importance of a vibrant and vigorous partnership, grounded in an ongoing dialogue. Most recently, the need for partnership and close communication was stressed in the report of the Panel on Peace Operations. I hope that today's discussion can help us to identify ways to pursue this goal.

Much of the focus of today's discussion concerns the framework for consultation between the Security Council and troop contributors. We all stand to gain from a clear understanding between those who prepare the mandates and those who execute them. Troop contributors need to know clearly what Security Council members envision and Security Council members need to understand what troop contributors are prepared to do. While the process of consultation may be time-consuming and complex, it pays back invaluable dividends –- not only for troop-contributing countries and the Council, but also for those vulnerable populations we are seeking to help.

A central aspect of this effort is to improve cooperation among troop-contributing countries, the Security Council and the Secretariat. This will help us address such problems as commitment gaps in the contributions of troops; failures or shortcomings in the operations; and problems concerning safety and security.

We in the Secretariat are committed to providing accurate and timely information to political decision-makers in the Security Council, proposing options for action, and

assessing accurately the risks and costs of each of these options. At the same time, we must provide troop contributors with the information they need to decide whether they wish to participate in a particular operation, including the requirements and risks that are involved. And with both groups of interlocutors, our contacts allow us to listen to and take account of their concerns, expectations and insights.

In this context, the Secretariat attaches the highest importance to providing frequent and comprehensive briefings to Member States. We hold consultations with Member States during the formulation and revision of concepts of operations and at times of crisis. And with the recent increase in resources, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations will be able to make its senior staff available -- including its military and civilian police experts -- to provide even more frequent briefings. We look forward to exploring with Member States how these sessions can be improved so as to respond to their requirements as fully as possible.

In addition to its regular meetings with groups of troop contributors, the Secretariat stands ready to meet with the representatives of individual Member States at any time, upon request, to discuss any concerns relating to the field. Furthermore, the Secretariat has not hesitated to introduce innovations where this would be useful; one example was the meeting the Secretariat convened in August 2000 with chiefs of defence staff of those countries contributing troops to the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).

In addition to the imperative to improve consultations, the Panel on Peace Operations also contains a number of practical recommendations to help improve our cooperation with troop contributors. For example:

-- The establishment of stand-by lists of military and civilian police specialists would accelerate the recruitment of mission staff which could help make use of the expertise of troop contributors, early in the planning phase;

-- Strengthened stand-by arrangements could lead to further opportunities for training of all potential peacekeepers, resulting, in turn, in a more coherent and consistent approach;

-- It could also allow many administrative issues to be resolved in advance, such as negotiations related to contingent-owned equipment. This would reduce the risk of misunderstandings, delays and frictions.

The strength and promise of peacekeeping lies in its collaborative nature. By consulting closely, by coordinating our responses and our actions, and establishing a relationship of trust and confidence, we can fully exploit the potential of peacekeeping.

We welcome today's debate, which we hope will lay the groundwork for still closer ties among the Security Council, troop contributors and the Secretariat. We stand ready to do our part.

Thank you.

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