29 August 2003


Security Council Discusses Ways to Improve Support for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations

Members Stress Need for Clear Mandates, Importance of Humanitarian Efforts, Electoral Assistance, Adequate Resources, Economic Reconstruction

NEW YORK, 28 August (UN Headquarters) -- Wrapping up their work for August, members of the Security Council this morning focused on ways of providing better support for United Nations peacekeeping operations in various parts of the world.

At the suggestion of the Council's outgoing President, Mikhail Wehbe (Syria), the Council addressed the evolving and increasingly complex nature of peacekeeping, with speakers emphasizing the need for clear mandates and timetables, as well as conditions to ensure their implementation.

Most participants agreed that peacekeeping missions should be involved not only in providing military forces to areas in conflict, but also in ensuring support for restoration of a durable peace through humanitarian efforts, as well as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, support for the rule of law, electoral assistance and economic reconstruction.  Of particular importance was the provision of adequate human and financial resources.

The representative of the United Kingdom said that, as post-conflict peacekeeping was a consequence of earlier failures, an earlier warning system was crucial to allow for the opportunity to act properly and intervene as necessary.  Prevention was very much better than cure.  But peacekeeping should be part of an integrated, multidimensional approach -- an essential element of which was the development of justice in transition.

Many speakers agreed that in dealing with new situations, it was important to learn lessons from the Organization's previous conflict resolution and peacekeeping experience, including in Sierra Leone, Kosovo, Timor-Leste and Afghanistan.  As, in some cases, gaps had emerged in the transition from peacekeeping to peace-building, speakers stressed the importance of coherence of efforts, coordination among various United Nations bodies, and flexibility in adapting to the situations on the ground.

Several members of the Council pointed out that the transition from conflict to peace and stability could not be shouldered by the Council alone.  It was necessary to explore how the Council could work with other United Nations organs, especially the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to evolve mechanisms to ensure that an initial deployment eventually led to a permanent peace.

In that connection, Chile's representative noted that the creation of ad hoc groups for Burundi and Guinea-Bissau and the recent cooperation between the Security Council and ECOSOC in those countries, were significant steps forward.

He also said that it was necessary to integrate human rights components into peacekeeping and to find a balance between the issues of sovereignty and moral obligation to protect defenceless individuals against the abuses of power.  Another issue was the relationship between peacekeeping and the need to bring to justice those responsible for crimes against humanity.  It was important not to allow impunity to prevail.

In the aftermath of last week's terrorist attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, the issues of safety and security of peacekeepers and humanitarian workers were particularly prominent in the debate.  Speakers insisted that harming peacekeepers should be punishable under international law as a crime against humanity and welcomed the unanimous adoption of resolution 1502 (2003) on Tuesday as an important step in order to reduce the vulnerability of international personnel.

In that connection, the representative of the Russian Federation said that the main goal of peacekeeping operations was ensuring normal living conditions for the people of countries in need, helping them to fully exercise their sovereignty in conditions of peace and stability.  The entire international community, therefore, was outraged by attempts to impede the work of peacekeepers, who were increasingly becoming targets of terrorists and bandits.  Resolution 1502 had sent a clear signal that the Council, acting on a solid basis of international law, did not intend to tolerate attempts to torpedo peacekeeping operations and would see to it that the perpetrators did not go unpunished.

Also hailing the adoption of resolution 1502, Syria's representative proposed conducting a comprehensive study on ways to ensure the safety of international personnel.  He also affirmed the importance of establishing a genuine partnership between the Council, the Secretariat and troop contributors in areas of mission planning, preparation and organization, as well as security.

Insisting on the need to make optimal use of specific capabilities and know-how of the United Nations system in the area of peacekeeping, Germany's representative advocated increased cooperation with regional and subregional organizations.  As far as rapid deployment was concerned, the Council should ask itself what was feasible, at least within the Organization's budget.  He questioned whether it would be worthwhile reconsidering that question in the context of a division of labour between the United Nations and national forces.

Also speaking this morning were representatives of Cameroon, Bulgaria, Guinea, France, Pakistan, Angola, Mexico, China, the United States and Spain.

The meeting was called to order at 10:20 a.m. and adjourned at 1:12 p.m.


This morning, the Security Council was expected to hold a wrap-up session on its work in August on the theme "Contribution of Peacekeeping to International Peace and Security".  The sub-topics for discussion proposed by the outgoing President of the Council (Syria) include:  means of making peacekeeping more effective; "traditional" and "complex" peacekeeping operations; the question of drawing up clear, credible and achievable mandates; appropriate rules of engagement; and overall security of peacekeepers.


Opening the meeting, President of the Council, MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria) said that his delegation had presented the subject of today's discussion in the light of the latest developments in the field of peacekeeping, which constituted one of the main elements in maintaining international peace and security.  Members of the Council were invited to comment on the positive aspects of peacekeeping and the conditions, which were needed to remove all obstacles in the way of peacekeeping.  It was also important to deal with the issue of protection of peacekeeping personnel in the field, particularly following the attack in Baghdad, which had resulted in deaths and injuries to international staff.

The Council must focus on the transitional stages of peacekeeping in an effective manner, he said.  When adopting a decision to establish a new operation, it must take into account all operational aspects and the protection of personnel.  Adequate military power needed to be provided for the mission to carry out its mandate.  Countries must be ready to launch operations anywhere, including Africa.  Also, the civilian elements that were needed to support peace needed to be taken into account, including humanitarian efforts, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants, support for the rule of law, electoral assistance and economic reconstruction.

Syria paid tribute to all those who worked with peacekeeping missions, supporting international efforts for peace.  From the murder of Count Bernadotte in 1948 to the murders in Baghdad, the men and women of the United Nations had paid a heavy price.  The most enduring tribute to the work of those who had lost their lives was effective action.  The Council must continue its debate, so that humanity could have peace in the whole world.

IYA TIDJANI (Cameroon) said the Council's decision to consider peacekeeping operations now was particularly wise and timely.  Over the past few years, those operations had proliferated throughout the world, becoming the very core of the United Nations security system.  A number of preconditions for the deployment of peace operations were essential, including a clear and realizable mandate and the ability to defend and safeguard the mission.  The Charter made available a great range of tools for the peaceful settlement of disputes under Chapter VI, as well as the coercive measures outlined in Chapter VII.

He said the Brahimi report was a key reference document, as it had raised awareness of the urgent need to reform peace operations and endow them with the necessary resources.  In certain situations, soldiers of peace were rapidly deployed and mobilized with the appropriate means.  In other cases, the international community hesitated over United Nations intervention.  When it did proceed, it often did so without the necessary resources, thereby impeding the operation, particularly its humanitarian aspects.  Certain non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had drawn attention to that tragic reality and a number of solutions had been submitted.

Indeed, he continued, many reforms had taken place in peace operations, and a realistic definition of the needs of each operation was being formulated in consultation with the troop-contributing countries and the Secretary-General. Consultation with regional partners had also been strengthened and efforts had been made to involve local civil society groups.  Also, the training of peacekeeping personnel had improved, and measures were now in place to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  There was also the systematic use of fact-finding missions.  Often, the Council had authorized a State or group of States to intervene on urgent basis with their own means.  That practice had not always been conclusive, particularly in Somalia and Rwanda, although some successes had recently been recorded in Africa.

The practice of deploying multinational forces with robust mandates made it possible to "strike while the iron was hot", he said.  It was very important to circumscribe the timetable very carefully.  Also necessary was to strengthen the United Nations' capacity to move rapidly and effectively, with the appropriate means, for which the Organization should rationalize the instruments available to it.  The experience in Liberia offered a new avenue for exploration, bearing in mind the regional deployment under way.  That had also highlighted the need to set up regional early alert systems with sufficient, independent capacity, especially in the West African region.

WOLFGANG TRAUTWEIN (Germany) said his country was sharing the burden of peacekeeping, both as the third largest financial contributor to missions' budgets and as a troop contributor.  As the only source of legitimacy for peace missions, the Council carried a heavy burden.  A well-drawn mandate was no guarantee for the success of a mission.  On the other hand, without such a mandate, a mission was bound to fail.  Rational decisions could only be taken if there was a solid, comprehensive and reliable information basis, and it was worth thinking of ways and means of broadening such a basis.  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in particular, had a vast amount of expertise from which the Council could profit.

The role of women deserved heightened attention, he said, and the mandates had to reflect the fact that in many conflict situations the majority of victims were women.  Sexual violence was often used as a means of warfare -- a fact that would be certainly of major relevance for the future work of the International Criminal Court.  It was necessary to go a step further, appointing more women for high-level positions in peacekeeping operations, increasing the overall percentage of female personnel and including in each mission a senior gender adviser.  It was also important to train peacekeepers.

Better ways of involving contributing countries in early decision-making needed to be considered, he said.  Another important question was how to make optimal use of specific capabilities and know-how of the United Nations system in the area of peacekeeping.  Regional peacekeeping merited particular attention, and yesterday's meeting with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) ministers had made it obvious once again.  The United Nations could provide valuable assistance through training and know-how.  Sound financing needed to be provided to ensure steady continuation of regional missions.

Turning to rapid deployment, he said that the Council should ask itself what was feasible, at least within the budget that the United Nations had at its disposition.  "Would it not be worthwhile reconsidering this question in the context of a division of labour between the United Nations and national forces?"  Labour division was also relevant as far as the different tasks that a mission had to fulfil were concerned.  Different countries contributing personnel to a mission had different strengths and weaknesses, and they were operating at different expenses.  Those factors could not be ignored when a decision had to be made which countries should contribute particular types of units and services.

At the same time, he stressed that peacekeeping must, by its very nature, remain compatible with the universal role of the United Nations and the principle of international solidarity.  Also, peacekeeping was good, but prevention was better.  Provided the Council issued a mandate or the receiving State agreed to such action, preventive deployments were a promising instrument, which should be considered more often.  The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had been a good example of such a mission.  Peacekeeping missions also needed an exit strategy.  Only where peace was consolidated, would it last.  It was for good reason that the improvement of peace-building instruments like the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, the rule of law, civilian police and the justice system were studied in great depth.  Afghanistan and Iraq were only the most prominent examples of what it meant to consolidate peace in countries that had to be rebuilt, he said.  Protection of the lives of peacekeepers was of great concern to all.  Baghdad had been a cruel reminder of how vulnerable United Nations personnel often was.  Harming peacekeepers was a crime against humanity and should be punishable under international law.

STEFAN TAFROV (Bulgaria) said that whatever the Council did after 19 August, it must consider the security dimension for United Nations personnel and for its peacekeepers, when spelling out the mandates of its peacekeeping operations.  The subject today was an enormous one, for which the Brahimi report was a very important basis.  Its value was inestimable, and the Council must continue to base itself on its analyses and conclusions.  The Council had the "final word" in defining the modalities of the mandate of any peace operation.

He highlighted as another important point the history of the emergence of peace operations in international affairs.  All peacekeeping operations today must be based on the consent of the parties concerned and employ the minimum use of force and absolute neutrality in implementing their mandates.  The watchword for peacekeeping operations was "realism", and the Council should elaborate those mandates in a realistic way.  The role of regional and subregional organizations was also important, before, during and after the deployment of a peace operation.

Peacekeeping operations were becoming increasingly complex.  United Nations peacekeepers were not just responsible for monitoring ceasefires, but for the administration of authority, the organization of elections, and the provision of access to humanitarian aid.  That complexity required increasingly detailed planning.  Training local police, for example, should be reinforced.  There must also be a human rights component in all peace operations.  Women's role in sustaining peace and promoting development was another important dimension.

ALPHA IBRAHIMA SOW (Guinea) said the Charter of the Organization entrusted the Council with the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security.  Thus, it had the duty to learn the lessons from past and current peacekeeping operations, making active efforts to bolster the United Nations capacity to promote peace.  The new nature of conflicts, including intra-State ones, had given new dimensions to peacekeeping.  The classical principle of interposition between the warring forces now needed to be further developed under the new conditions and in the new context.

The success of peacekeeping relied on the respect for the basic principles of impartiality, consent of the parties and non-use of force, except in self-defence.  Failure of certain operations had been due to a large number of factors, including poor definition of mandates, inadequacy of resources and the absence of political will.  To tackle such a situation, it was important to send multi-disciplinary fact-finding missions to the conflict zones in order to set the right mandate.  Better planning and clear rules of engagement, as well as the possibility of rapid deployment were of particular importance.  Coordination between all the actors involved and the availability of resources should receive attention, as should cooperation with troop-contributing countries.  Training and regional cooperation arrangements should be taken into account.

As for peacekeeping in Africa, he was in favour of bolstering regional and subregional capacities and strengthening the Organization's cooperation with them. Developing peacekeeping and preventive activities in Africa required logistical, financial and training support to regional organizations from the United Nations.

In conclusion, he paid tribute to international personnel who risked their lives in the service of the United Nations.  He condemned the criminal attacks on peacekeepers and relayed his delegation's condolences to the families of the victims of the attack in Baghdad.

SERGEY LAVROV (Russian Federation) said that a key instrument available to the Council in settling disputes was the peacekeeping operation, conducted under the United Nations flag and by multinational forces acting on a Council mandate.  Recently, consensus had emerged about the need for a comprehensive approach to resolving conflicts.  It was crucial that the practical aspects of such an approach be worked out with the active involvement of all Member States.  Among the principles important to that strategy were the need for cooperation by the parties to the conflict, the use of regional strategies, and the need for the Council's authorization for any operations involving coercion.  The mechanisms for peacekeeping operations were gradually being improved, and cooperation was developing with the Council and the troop-contributing countries.

He said had there been an expanded use of United Nations missions in areas of conflict and of the Secretary-General's Special Representatives.  Operations were becoming increasingly "multi-functional" in nature, and such factors as socio-economic circumstances, religion and ethnicity were being taken into account more often.  A differentiated approach, which reflected the specific characteristics of each operation, was also gaining ground.  Other key tasks were reforming the security sector, reinforcing borders, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, as well as the promotion of economic reforms and law enforcement and judicial organizations.  Peace missions now were often engaged in organizing and holding elections and advancing constitutional reforms.

The main goal of those operations was ensuring normal living conditions for the people of States in need, helping them to fully exercise their sovereignty in conditions of peace and stability, he said.  The entire international community, therefore, was outraged by attempts to impede the work of peacekeepers, who were increasingly becoming targets of terrorists and bandits.  Resolution 1502 (2003) had sent a clear signal that the Council, acting on a solid basis of international law, did not intend to tolerate attempts to torpedo peacekeeping operations and would see to it that the perpetrators did not go unpunished.

Turning to the situation in Iraq, he said that was a serious challenge to the Organization, and the wealth of peacekeeping experience should serve as a guide.  Given the complexity of the challenges facing the Iraqi situation, new and imaginative approaches were definitely needed.  That required a truly comprehensive approach and the significant enhancement of the United Nations' role.  He sought an internationally recognized Iraqi government on the basis of a clear plan for restoring that country in a specific time frame, as soon as possible.  The status and the parameters of an international military presence should serve the goal of providing safe and favourable conditions for elections.  His country was prepared to do everything it could to promote that goal.

HERALDO MUNOZ (Chile) said the international community had witnessed a clear trend towards increasingly broad and effective use of the mechanisms under Chapters VI and VII of the Charter.  Consistent with that trend, there had been a formulation of doctrines of preventive diplomacy and humanitarian intervention, which built on the concept of collective action.  The issue of peacekeeping had tremendous importance in that respect.

In situations of conflict and crisis, the responsibilities of the United Nations were very important, he continued.  Among the issues that became most prominent recently, he noted situations where traditional tools did not seem most appropriate.  The concept of security included non-military threats and concerns over the safety of persons, as well as globalized terrorism.  Conflicts had evolved from inter-State to intra-State ones.  The Brahimi report had become a good example of an adjustment to the new situation.

It was necessary to integrate human rights components into peacekeeping, he said, and to find a balance between the issues of sovereignty and moral obligation to protect defenceless individuals against the abuses of power.  Another issue was the relationship between peacekeeping and the need to bring to justice those responsible for crimes against humanity.  It was important not to allow impunity to prevail.  Cooperation between military and civilian personnel and respect for the various functions of each sector of peacekeeping were needed.  It was also important to address the issue of the role of women in peacekeeping.  While the problem of gender had been addressed by the United Nations, more remained to be done.  In particular, it was important to introduce the issue of security into the work of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues.

Turning to post-conflict peace-building, he said that the responsibilities of the Council coincided with other branches and departments of the United Nations in that respect.  The Council should make proper use of cooperation with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), for example.  The creation of ad hoc groups for Burundi and Guinea-Bissau and the recent cooperation between the Security Council and ECOSOC in those countries were significant steps forward.

EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) paid tribute to the men and women who had risked their lives to carry out peacekeeping operations, often in more difficult situations of intra- and inter-State conflict.  What was needed was an efficient, targeted effort across a spectrum involving, among other aspects, peacekeeping, peace-building and reform towards the creation of democratic, sovereign, stable States.  Post-conflict peacekeeping was a consequence of earlier failures.  Thus, an earlier warning system was crucial to allow for the opportunity to act properly and intervene as necessary.  Prevention was very much better than cure.  But peacekeeping should be part of an integrated, multidimensional approach -- an essential element of which was the development of justice in transition.

Regarding "partners" in peacekeeping, he said the United Nations normally and properly took the lead, but it worked with regional organizations, countries in need of help, their neighbours and others.  The representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) yesterday had emphasized how effort on the ground could be much improved by regional input.  When regional organizations or individual States undertook peace operations, it was preferable that those were covered by a Council resolution, although that was not always possible.  Always necessary was that such activities were consistent with the United Nations Charter.

He asked whether enough was being done to help regional organizations and whether there was enough practical military support and training.  Those were among the many elements required, in order to deploy a coherent military force in a way that, when it hit the ground as a multinational presence, it could operate effectively and with guaranteed security for all participants.  That was a formidable task, and the question was whether enough support was being provided towards that goal.  Peace operations required readily deployable and trained troops with robust rules of engagement, early preparation, firm leadership, prompt decisions by the Council and, above all, strong political will.  History had demonstrated that prompt intervention could "quench the appetite for conflict"; however, confronting crisis "out there" depended on the political will of the nations "in here".

MICHEL DUCLOS (France) said that since the Brahimi report, United Nations peacekeeping had achieved significant progress, and it was important to continue trying to improve performance even further.

A specific case before the Council was the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which allowed for the drawing of some important lessons, he said.  In approving an emergency force for Bunia and expanding the mandate of the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), the Council had acted urgently without locking itself in the security approach alone.  It had also focused on the political dimension of the problem, in particular during the period of transition.  The Council had also undertaken a mission to the region, which had proved useful in refocusing the peace process there.

The operation of the European Union had also proven that when circumstances required, action by Member States could help the Council to deal with the situation on the ground, he continued.  Such an intervention, however, as also reflected in what ECOWAS was doing in Liberia, for example, must be exceptional in nature and well targeted.  Instead of replacing the United Nations, such operations should complement its efforts.

Increasingly, peacekeeping was becoming more complex, he said, and it was important to maintain consistency between peacekeeping itself and the issues of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, reconstruction, electoral assistance and support for the rule of law.  In that respect, MONUC's experience had emphasized the importance of coordinated action on the ground.

Many peacekeeping operations were taking place in Africa, and he welcomed the measures undertaken by regional and subregional structures there.  It was also necessary to bear in mind the imperative need to provide for the security of peacekeeping and humanitarian personnel, and the resolution adopted on that subject by the Council this month was an important step.

MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) conveyed the sympathies of the Government and people of Pakistan over the deaths of United Nations servants in Baghdad.  His country deplored such attacks.  He welcomed the recent adoption of the resolution, initiated by Mexico, on the protection of humanitarian personnel in armed conflicts.  That was a timely text, given the recent events in Baghdad and the threats faced by humanitarian personnel in war zones around the world.  While the recent history of peacekeeping had not been without anguish or pain, the successes should not be forgotten, such as the transition of both Cambodia and East Timor from war-torn societies to viable States.

He said that peace operations had restored a semblance of order and stability in other parts of the world, including in the Balkans, and, recently, in Sierra Leone, despite initial setbacks there.  His country was proud to have been associated with each of those missions.

The recent tendency had been towards intra-State, rather than inter-State conflicts, which often posed an even greater threat to international peace and security.  The Council had a responsibility to address all threats to peace and security and to prevent potential armed conflicts from turning into actual ones.  Traditionally, peacekeeping meant the deployment of a military force, with ceasefires a central task.  Enforcing them required robust and sustained peacekeeping measures on the ground, accompanied by equally robust rules of engagement, uniformly applicable across the mission.

Peacekeeping was becoming more complex and its military aspects should be augmented by a host of tasks aimed at ensuring that a fragile peace became a permanent one, he said.  That included robust enforcement, the provision of humanitarian assistance, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, support for the rule of law, electoral assistance, the monitoring of human rights violations, and creating the necessary environment for reconstruction.  The transition from conflict to peace and from peace to stability could not be shouldered by the Council alone.  It should explore how it could work with other United Nations organs, especially the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to evolve composite mechanisms to ensure that the initial deployment eventually led to a permanent peace.

He said the success of any peace operation also depended on the quality of the troops.  The international community, thus, must ensure the provision of adequate financial and other necessary resources to complete its assigned tasks.  Coordination should also be improved between the Council, the Secretariat and the troop contributors.  The Council should also carry out an analysis of how its response could be more symmetrical and commensurate with a given threat.  The ghosts of Bosnia, Somalia and Rwanda "still haunted us today"; that must not be repeated in Liberia, he stressed.

The asymmetry in the way the Council approached peacekeeping was not more vivid than in Kashmir, where only 45 observers were expected to maintain the most dangerous of ceasefires in that most dangerous flashpoint.  It was the obligation of all Member States to accept United Nations peace missions and to cooperate with them.  It was also a duty of the Council to carefully consider the reports of peacekeeping missions.  In the case of Kashmir, those requirements had not been met.

JULIO HELDER DE MOURA LUCAS (Angola) said that peacekeeping was undoubtedly one of the most delicate issues facing the Council.  Before taking decisions on a particular mission, the Council must evaluate the situation, obtain support from Member States and ensure resources in order to ensure its success.  The core issue was the mandate to be entrusted to a mission, which should be clear, realistic and achievable.  Clear guidelines for the mission needed to be established.  It should also be in line with the expectations of the recipient country and all the parties involved, in particular the neighbouring countries.

Restraining the use of force was one of the most important principles for international peacekeeping, he continued.  Robust military capacity should contain a strong element of deterrence in order to send a clear message to the parties to conflicts.  Such had been the case in Sierra Leone.  He did not see the need to apply uniform universal rules of engagement for all missions, stressing the need to maintain certain flexibility in individual missions, taking into account the situation on the ground.  A comprehensive strategy to ensure sustainable peace should include disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, reconstruction efforts, measures to ensure law and order and electoral assistance.

Yesterday's meeting with ECOWAS demonstrated the important role that regional organizations could play, he said.  Cooperation of the Security Council with such organizations had an enormous potential that needed to be further developed.  In conclusion, he underlined the importance of the issue of security of international personnel, which had been emphasized by the attack in Baghdad on 19 August.  The adoption of resolution 1502 testified to the determination of the Council to deal with that issue.

ADOLFO AGUILAR ZINSER (Mexico) said it was important for the Council to reflect on its tasks and missions through frequent reviews, in light of the responsibilities it bore and the new responsibilities that the Organization must shoulder around the world.  Now, more than ever, the international community was looking to the United Nations for leadership and impartiality.  The United Nations had a growing presence around the world, which was both energetic and productive.  Its challenges should be met with an increasingly clear understanding of everything at stake in each mission.  Another challenge was the scarcity of the Organization's resources.  Thus, it was essential to define the priorities in clear mandates, which took into account the resources of the Organization.

He stressed that the investment of the international community should be consistent with the objectives it set for United Nations' missions.  As some speakers had noted, there was a lack of symmetry in the response capacity of the Council to the various challenges arising around the world.  In some circumstances, the decision-making process was difficult, and, often, torturous, which only delayed engagement in a conflict situation.  Most acute recently was the case of Liberia.  The Council must be able to take decisions rapidly and resolutely as events warranted.  Recent United Nations missions, such as in the Congo, Iraq, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, and Afghanistan should guide the setting up of a programming model for new missions.  Those required very clear-cut and precise demarcation of their scope and extent.

Also critical was the need to very clearly determine the legitimate objectives required to meet the needs of the populations affected by conflict, he said.  The United Nations should also define clearly the extent and scope of tasks of the countries and groups of countries concerned.  Experience had made clear that there was a need for more flexible and supple methods of accountability and coordination, and better ways of establishing agreements, with a view to improving partnerships.  The Council should also strengthen its coordination with ECOSOC, in order to explore the deep, underlying causes of conflict.  Above all, everything should be done to defend the integrity of United Nations missions and to guarantee the security of their participants.

ZHANG YISHAN (China) said today's discussion should help the Council to better perform its duties in maintaining international peace and security.  Over the years, United Nations peacekeeping had played an important role in normalizing situations in many parts of the world.  Paying his respect to the peacekeeping personnel over the years, in particular those who had lost their lives in the service of the United Nations, he said he had seen with his own eyes how difficult their duties were.  The 19 August attack against the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad would not achieve its goals.  Instead of giving up, the international community would further strengthen the Organization's peacekeeping activities.

As the task confronting United Nations peacekeeping missions became increasingly complex, he continued, the Organization needed to get involved at an earlier stage and in a more forceful way.  The Council should make more efforts to guarantee the success of its operations, which depended on the degree of support from Council members.  Regional organizations should also play an important role in settling conflicts.  Members of the Council should continue to support peacekeeping in terms of logistics and personnel.

The mandates of the missions should be well defined, clear and achievable, he stressed.  Africa was the focus of United Nations efforts, and regional organizations there had contributed to the peacekeeping operations.  However, some missions had not fully achieved their goals.  He hoped that the United Nations and Member States would increase support for regional efforts, improving their capacity.  For its part, China consistently supported the United Nations' peacekeeping efforts.

JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said that, as some colleagues had noted, perhaps the most important factor in today's discussion was that peace operations were becoming more complex in a number of ways.  The Council and those conducting such operations were experimenting and learning as they went, and, by and large, were improving.  Regional, political and military support for peace efforts were required, and, sometimes, direct involvement in a peace operation.  The United States had encouraged other countries to develop their capacities for peace operations, and, in some cases, was providing direct assistance.  The African Crisis Reaction Initiative was one such example.  That had provided field command and staff training and critical equipment to 12,000 soldiers in nine sub-Saharan countries since 1997.

He said there was real value for exploring how the more demanding operations could be undertaken by multinational contingents, under a strong leader.  His country had been supporting ECOWAS in its efforts in West Africa -- politically, financially, and militarily.  Every conflict was unique.  Not all threats to international peace and security were amenable to United Nations peace operations.  Their uniqueness affected their mandates, rules of engagement, and organization.  There were different types of peacekeeping operations -- United Nations, regional and multinational coalitions.  All conflicts should be evaluated by planning teams.  There were no fixed formulas for peacekeeping, nor were those desirable.  Each case was driven by realities on the ground; each merited close examination based on the needs and possibilities of each situation, and each could be addressed through flexible mechanisms.

Turning to the security of United Nations missions and their personnel, he said everyone had been reminded tragically of the importance of that issue and of the difficult circumstances in which the Council, the United Nations and both military and civilian personnel operated.  He welcomed the adopted of resolution 1502 (2003), which moved beyond previous measures by focusing the Council's attention on the prevention of attacks on such personnel and on the accountability of those who committed them.  In the wake of the barbaric attacks last week in Baghdad, everyone needed to review ways to counter the threat of additional terrorist attacks.  That effort had already begun and richly deserved the support of all Council members.

INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) said the Brahimi report had allowed the United Nations to better tackle the objective of maintaining international peace and security.  Now, much still remained to be done, but the advances made in the last three years had been remarkable.  To further improve United Nations peacekeeping, it was important to ensure better coordination in the planning stages of missions.  Proper planning implied knowing what was going on on the ground.  The Council should also strive to make sure that the mandates it approved were clear and convincing and backed by sufficient resources.

The United Nations also needed to deploy its missions promptly and rapidly, he continued, and the Secretariat was making significant efforts in that regard.  Management in the field must deal with the pressing requirements involved in the day-to-day functioning of a mission.  Elements of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, mine clearance, promotion of human rights and gender issues were often overlooked, but they must be part of the mandates.  Although peace-building often fell to other agencies of the United Nations, the Council should take into consideration the transition issues.  Conflict prevention was also very important.

MIKHAIL WEHBE (Syria), speaking in his national capacity, said that peacekeeping operations were an import instrument for the United Nations in maintaining world peace and security.  They played a vital and effective role in reducing tension, contributing to the settlement of disputes, and securing a propitious environment for post-conflict peace-building.  Those operations, in past years, had proven their effectiveness in undertaking diverse tasks, ranging from the traditional monitoring of ceasefires to the complex challenges of administering territories.

He said that successes had been achieved in Sierra Leone, East Timor, Bosnia and Prevlaka.  It was hoped that such success would extend to other areas, which remained marginalized, such as in Somalia.  Despite the important role played by peace operations, they were not an alternative to a permanent solution to a conflict.  They merely were a temporary measure to prevent conflicts from escalating and to contribute to ending hostilities and reducing the potential for escalation.  Consequently, they must be time-bound and must be guided by United Nations Charter principles and objectives.  The Council could contribute to the success of the missions by defining clear mandates and following up developments on the ground.

After reviewing the specific actions taken by the Council in August, he recalled that the United Nations had started its peacekeeping operations more than half a century ago in the Middle East, and it continued to implement its tasks there efficiently.  Syria valued highly the sacrifices made by the commanders and members of peacekeeping operations around the world in general, and in his region, in particular.  He appreciated the cooperation between the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and Syria.  The recent acts of aggression against members of United Nations missions and Agencies around the world represented an aggression against all United Nations members.  Consequently, the international community must "hunt down" the perpetrators of those crimes and punish them.

He said security measures must be enhanced to protect those who had dedicated their lives to world peace.  The unanimous adoption of resolution 1502 (2003) was a clear expression of the Council's determination to take all measures to protect those who served in United Nations missions and offices, and its will to pursue the perpetrators and to punish them.  He proposed that the Secretariat prepare a comprehensive study on ways to protect United Nations missions.

He affirmed the importance of establishing a genuine partnership between the Council, the Secretariat and troop contributors in areas of mission planning, preparation and organization, as well as security.  He also stressed the need to consult with troop contributing countries when and if changes in the tasks or structure of a mission were contemplated.

Speaking as Council President, he said that the perspectives and proposals, which had emerged in today's discussion, would enrich the Brahimi report and the recommendations contained therein.  As that was his last scheduled meeting before departing Headquarters in New York to serve as the Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations in Geneva, he thanked the United Nations staff in all peacekeeping operations, as well as all staff members of the Secretariat and the Security Council, and the interpreters, who made it possible to "make our voices heard" around the world.

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