21 October 2003


Also Begins Discussion on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

NEW YORK, 20 October (UN Headquarters) -- Speakers highlighted the crucial role of Africa’s regional organizations in resolving conflicts and called for greater assistance from the international community in that regard, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) concluded its general debate on peacekeeping operations this afternoon.

The representative of Kenya said the determination of African countries to build their capacity to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts in the region was real.  In that context, she welcomed the new initiatives, such as the establishment of the African Standby Force, undertaken by the African Union and the Group of Eight industrialized countries, and called for those measures to be nurtured into concrete plans and actions guaranteed by international support.  However, she added, Kenya was concerned with the inability of African countries to meet crises with well-trained and equipped personnel and called for assistance to the existing and emerging troop-contributing counties, with a view to identifying their needs and overcoming shortfalls in rapid deployment and equipment.

Nigeria’s representative noted that the provision of logistical support and vocational training for demobilized combatants enhanced the capacity of regional organizations and facilitated the peace processes.  He urged greater participation of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in the training and augmentation of contingent-owned equipment and self-sustainment items.

On the same issue, the representative of Croatia noted that, while training remained the sole responsibility of Member States, their approaches to training often differed, and welcomed the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ efforts to standardize training activities.

Zimbabwe’s representative, emphasizing the need to clarify the role of contributing countries with respect to the protection of the privileges and immunities of their personnel, called for those issues to be included in peacekeeping training programmes.


At the conclusion of today’s debate, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, said the Committee’s deliberations on the reform of United Nations peace operations had reinforced the sense that the expansion of United Nations peacekeeping could be approached with cautious optimism.  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations could take pride in certain areas, including rapid deployment and mission support. Other areas, however, warranted greater efforts, including the safety and security of United Nations personnel.  The issue of intelligence, which might have been sidestepped in the past, would also have to be addressed.  

In other business today, the Committee began its consideration of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.  The Chairman of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, Raimundo Gonzalez Aninat (Chile), introduced that body’s report.

The representatives of Ecuador, Yemen, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Uganda, China, Mongolia, Switzerland, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Bulgaria, Egypt, Angola, Lebanon and Austria also spoke.

Speaking in the exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Ethiopia and Eritrea.

The Committee will meet again Tuesday, 21 October, at 3 p.m. to continue its consideration of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.



The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to continue its general debate on the comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations.  [For background, see Press Release GA/SPD/265 of 15 October 2003.]

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