Press Releases

    1 March 2005

    Peacekeeping Special Committee Concludes 2005 Session, with Report Noting Unprecedented Increase in Operations

    NEW YORK, 28 February (UN Headquarters) -- The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations concluded its 2005 substantive session Friday evening, adopting its annual report, which noted the unprecedented increase in peacekeeping operations and commended the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations for its achievement in managing the deployment of some 75,000 military, civilian police and both international and local civilians, and for the rotation of some 120,000 uniformed personnel in 2004.

    The report recognizes, however, that the current level of resources placed inevitable limits on the scope and number of missions that the Department could effectively undertake and manage.  Accordingly, the Committee recommends that the Department evaluate how, and to what extent, the complexity of peacekeeping mandates affected the operational efficiency of missions, with a view to reporting its findings to the Special Committee during its 2006 session.

    Noting the ongoing surge for peacekeeping operations -- as well as the increasingly complex nature of some missions -- in various parts of the world, the Special Committee’s report considered it essential for the United Nations to be able to effectively maintain international peace and security, which called for, among other things, an improved capacity to assess conflict situations, effective planning and management of peacekeeping operations, and quick and effective responses to any Security Council mandate.

    Those recommendations closely mirrored many of the concerns raised by Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, who opened the session three weeks ago with a warning that heightened demand for peacekeeping operations last year represented a challenge not seen since the rapid increases in the scale and complexity of missions launched in the 1990s, and that the Organization needed to consolidate its successes and reforms, and “avoid taking on too much and spreading ourselves too thin”.

    “We will have our hands full”, he said of the coming year, adding that the United Nations had neither the resources nor the structure to keep launching one new mission after another and, at the same time, keep reform efforts on track.  And although Member States agreed with the 2000 Brahimi Report that the Organization should be prepared to deploy no more than one complex peace mission a year, in the first half of 2004 alone, it had had to launch operations in Burundi, Haiti and Côte d’Ivoire in quick succession, virtually on the heels of having deployed to Liberia its largest-ever operation, at the end of 2003.

    “I want us to take care of the loose ends, before we push our luck by taking on additional new complex operations in 2005, beyond the Sudan”, he said, adding:  “I would rather use whatever breathing space and time we can steal to clarify our strategic direction and invest in the reforms needed to improve the performance of missions that may be established in 2006 and 2007.”

    On another pressing issue, he stressed the importance of swiftly addressing the allegations of sexual abuse against personnel in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).  “We need your help to send the right message to them, by taking swift action where clearly warranted, while respecting due process and the presumption of innocence before guilt is proven”, he told the Committee.

    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).  It is comprised of 113 Member States, mostly past or current contributors of peacekeeping operations.  Other Member States participate as observers.

    Summary of Report on Peacekeeping

    In its report, the Special Committee stresses, among other things, 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 reaffirms that the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security rests with the United Nations, in accordance with the Charter, and affirms that peacekeeping continues to be one of the key instruments available to the organization in discharging that responsibility.

    As for the Security Council, the Special Committee notes the Council’s December presidential statement with regard to the inclusion, as appropriate, of peace-building elements in the mandates of peacekeeping operations, as well as the need to explicitly define and clearly identify peace-building elements before they are incorporated.  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.

    Outraged by the large number of allegations of sexual misconduct against military and civilian personnel in MONUC, the Special Committee emphasizes the need for reinforced efforts and measures on the part of the United Nations and Member States to ensure that all mission staff were aware of their duties and obligations.  Such acts of gross misconduct were a stain on the good name of military, civilian police and civilian personnel in United Nations peace mission managed by the Department.

    The Special Committee also emphasizes that troop contributors, involved Member States and the United Nations had a clear duty not to allow those responsible for such acts to go unpunished.  It also emphasizes that it is critically important for the victims of any sexual abuse or exploitation in United Nations peacekeeping missions is both assured and seen to be done.  It also underscores that due process must be observed.

    The report also notes that Member States should continue to ensure that United Nations peacekeeping is provided with political support, adequate human, financial and logistical resources and a clear, realistic and achievable mandate.  But the Committee notes with concern the Secretary-General’s assessment that the organization’s peacekeeping continues to face “significant gaps”, in particular in the areas of enabling and nice capabilities and strategic lift.

    In the area of rapid deployment, the Special Committee also shares the Secretary-General’s view that mechanisms, such as the pre-mandate authority and strategic deployment stocks, have strengthened the United Nations capacity to provide logistical support to personnel deployments.  The Special Committee takes note of the significant added value for mission start-up of the Logistics Base in Brindisi.  It also encourages the Secretariat to continue to work with Member States in order to make all the respective mechanisms for rapid deployment, including strategic deployment stocks, more effective, in keeping with the changing demands of peacekeeping operations.

    While supporting the call for rapid deployment, the Special Committee urges the Secretariat to optimize all existing aspects of pre-mandate operational preparedness and deployment.  It also calls for a more efficient management of the financial and logistical aspects of peacekeeping operations, both at Headquarters and in the field, in order to make deployment rapid and effective.

    The report also note the continued surge for peacekeeping activities in Africa and urged Member States to continue to provide direct, adequate and timely contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations on the continent. It also welcomes developments within the African Union to enhance capacities for crisis management, including through the establishment of a Peace and Security Council, as well as progress made towards the development of an African standby force.  The Committee calls on the international community to support those efforts to enable the African Union to achieve its targets for 2010.

    Further in this regard, the Committee is pleased with the Secretary-General’s recommendation that, until the African Union develops the capacity to support its peacekeeping operations fully, the United Nations may consider such options as logistical support to African Union peacekeeping missions, if mandated by the Security Council and provided with adequate resources by the General Assembly.

    The report stresses that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) is a crucial component of peace processes and peace operations and that its success depends on the political will of all parties.  The Committee believes that early planning and coordination, along with early and sustained funding of the DDR components of peace missions, are also key elements for the success of such programmes.

    The Special Committee, therefore, calls for long-term commitment by the donor community in support of DDR programmes and would request the Secretary-General to identify the additional resources needed to support its capacity in that area.  It also stresses the importance of ensuring that all women and children associated with armed forces and groups are systematically included in every DDR process, taking onto account their specific needs and rights, especially those of girls, with a particular emphasis on reintegration and education, in order to prevent them from being recruited.

    Further, the Special Committee recognizes that creating and sustaining stability in a post-conflict environment requires that the causes of the conflict be addressed and local rule of law capacities be established and strengthened.  In that regard, the Special Committee recalls the importance of respect for the rule of law in the administration of justice, as a vital contribution to building peace and justice and ending impunity.

    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.

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