Press Releases

                                                                     20 April 2004

    Improved Conflict Assessment, Challenge of Current Surge in UN Operations among Issues Addressed, as Peacekeeping Committee Adopts 2004 Report

    NEW YORK, 19 April (UN Headquarters) -- The Special Committee on Peacekeeping concluded its 2004 session Friday evening, adopting the annual report of its Working Group. Recognizing the recent surge in United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world, the Committee’s report stresses that in order for to be able to effectively maintain international peace and security, it is now essential for the world body to strive for, among other things, improved capacity to assess conflict situations, effective planning and management of peacekeeping operations, and quick and effective responses to Security Council mandates.

    Opening the session two weeks ago, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, warned the Committee to be ready to “suspend business as usual” and to prepare for major challenges now that the Security Council was creating or expanding missions on an almost unprecedented scale. “My view is that the challenge can be met, but that a lot will be required, from the countries which have mandated these missions, from the wider membership, and from the Secretariat.”

    The reforms of the last few years would carry the Organization “only so far”, he said. He identified five areas where the main challenges would lay: planning; logistics’ planning and mission support; military “enabling” and civilian police capacities and recruitment of civilians; and safety and security. He urged everyone to reach for innovations, adding that the United Nations must work harder with its partners, including regional organizations and the humanitarian and development communities, to enhance the effectiveness of the Organization’s peacekeeping.

    The Special Committee was established by the General Assembly in 1965 to conduct a comprehensive review of all issues relating to peacekeeping. It reports to the Assembly on its work through the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) and it is comprised of 113 Member States, mostly past or current contributors of peacekeeping personnel. Others participate as observers.

    Currently, there are 15 peacekeeping missions, with 32,500 troops, 1,800 military observers and 5,300 civilian police officers, in addition to 3,672 international and 7,395 local civilian staff in the field.

    Summary of Report on Peacekeeping

    In its report, entitled “Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects”, the Special Committee states that it is essential to respect such basic principles as consent of the parties, impartiality and the non-use of force except in self-defence. In addition, peacekeeping operations are no substitute for addressing the root causes of conflict, which should be done in a comprehensive manner, using political, social and developmental instruments. Consideration should be given to ways in which those efforts can continue without interruption after a peacekeeping mission’s departure, so as to ensure a smooth transition to lasting peace and security.

    The Special Committee stresses that the Security Council has the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as the need to explicitly define and clearly identify peace-building elements before they are incorporated into peacekeeping mandates. The General Assembly’s role in formulating post-conflict peace-building activities is emphasized. Further, the Special Committee continues to stress the importance of clearly defined mandates, objectives and command structures, as well as secure financing and congruity between mandates, resources and objectives.

    Paying tribute to the courage and dedication of peacekeeping and to those who have lost their lives in the service of peace, the Special Committee expresses its grave concern about the precarious security environment prevailing in many field missions and calls upon the Secretariat to give the utmost priority to enhancing the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel in the field.

    According to the report, the Special Committee condemns in the strongest terms the killing of military and civilian officers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kosovo (Serbia and Montenegro), and Afghanistan, recognizing that these continuous attacks and other violence constitute a major challenge to United Nations field operations. Also in the strongest terms, the Special Committee condemns the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad.

    Expressing its support for the ongoing overall review of the United Nations security management system, the Special Committee reiterates the need for enhanced coordination and delineation of responsibility and accountability among the Organization’s safety and security components, both at Headquarters and in the field. It underlines that these components should fully participate in the integrated planning process in order to develop adequate mechanisms for risk and threat assessment, as well as implementation of safety and security measures.

    Regarding disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, the Special Committee stresses that, first and foremost, the success of any such process depends on the political will and mutual trust of the parties in conflict. It also stresses the need for all such processes to take into account the special needs of child and women soldiers, as well as children and women who are dependants of ex-combatants. It stresses further the importance, in implementing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, of a coherent public information programme to promote and sustain the confidence of the local population throughout the process.

    In the critical area of cooperation among the Security Council, the Secretariat and the troop-contributing countries, the Special Committee reiterates the need for substantive and meaningful consultations. It urges the Secretariat to consult with the troop-contributing countries in a timely manner while planning any change in the tasks, mission-specific rules of engagement, operational concepts or command and control structure which impact on the personnel, equipment, training and logistics requirements.

    Regarding civilian police, the Special Committee endorses the Secretariat’s revised policy on recruitment of retired police officers into peacekeeping operations and raising the age limit for civilian police service, taking into account the different requirements for various types of appointments.

    On enhancing African peacekeeping, the Special Committee notes the predicted surge in peacekeeping activities in that region during 2004 and urges Member States to continue to provide direct contributions to United Nations support operations in a timely manner. It recognizes the effort to establish the African Standby Forces through regional partnership agreements, as well as the coherent African Union units working together to develop and adopt standard United Nations training equipment, common doctrine and arrangements for operational control that will enhance their ability to respond to crises.

    The Special Committee recognizes the need to further expand the pool of African military, civilian police and civilian specialists available for peacekeeping operations, the report states. It requests the enhancement and reinforcement of efforts to train African military peacekeeping personnel and that they be conducted to United Nations standards. The Special Committee also calls for coordination of bilateral and multilateral efforts to ensure their maximum effectiveness.

    According to the report, the Special Committee welcomes the new partnerships being established in building Africa’s capacity for conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building between the United Nations, African Union, other regional organizations and individual Member States. Welcoming the developments in relation to the European Union peace facility for Africa, it encourages the development of similar mechanisms and calls for the coordination of bilateral and multilateral efforts to ensure their maximum effectiveness.

    The report says that the Special Committee welcomes the enhanced ability of the United Nations to deploy more rapidly than in the past. In order to further bolster rapid deployment capacities, and specifically with the intent of truncating preparation timelines, the Special Committee calls upon the Secretariat to improve the efficacy of all existing aspects of pre-mandate operational preparedness. It supports the requirements for rapidly deployable reserve forces as an integral part of a peacekeeping force under the operational command of the Force Commander whenever the specific circumstances on the ground require.

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