26 October 2005
Fourth Committee in Consensus Approval of Draft Resolutions on "Question of Tokelau", Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
Delegates Also Conclude Debate on Review of Peacekeeping Operations
NEW YORK, 25 October (UN Headquarters) -- The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this morning approved two draft resolutions, the first on the question of Tokelau and the second relating to international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. It also concluded its general debate on the review of peacekeeping operations.
Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the text entitled "Question of Tokelau", as amended, by which the General Assembly would note that the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Tokelau remained firmly committed to the development of self-government. It would also note the decision of the General Fono in August 2005 to hold a referendum as self-government on the basis of a draft Constitution for Tokelau and a treaty of free association with New Zealand.
Further by that text, the Assembly would acknowledge Tokelau's need for continued reassurance, given the cultural adjustments taking place in the strengthening of the Territory's capacity for self-government, and welcome the assurance of New Zealand's Government that it would meet its obligations to the United Nations with respect to Tokelau. It would further call upon the administering Power and United Nations agencies to continue to assist Tokelau as it further developed its economy and governance structures in the context of its ongoing constitutional evolution.
The Assembly would also note the considerable progress made towards the adoption of a Constitution and of national symbols by Tokelau, the steps taken by Tokelau and New Zealand to develop a draft treaty of free association as a basis for an act of self-determination and the strong support expressed by Tokelauan communities in New Zealand for the Territory's move towards self-determination.
By the text on the peaceful uses of outer space, also approved without a vote, the Committee recommended that the Assembly reaffirm the importance of international cooperation in developing the rule of law, including the relevant norms of space law and their important role in international cooperation for the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
Also by that text, the Assembly would endorse the report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and urge States that had not yet become parties to the international treaties governing the uses of outer space to consider ratifying or acceding to those treaties, as well as incorporating them into national legislation.
The Assembly would, by further terms, recommend that more attention be paid and political support provided to all matters relating to the protection and preservation of the outer space environment, especially those potentially affecting the Earth's environment.
By other terms, the Assembly would urge all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space as an essential condition for the promotion of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
Papua New Guinea's representative, acting also on behalf of Fiji, introduced the draft resolution on the question of Tokelau as well as the related amendments, while the Chairman of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space introduced the second text.
Following its approval of the texts, the Committee heard general statements by the Chair of the Special Committee on Decolonization and the representative of New Zealand.
The representative of France spoke in explanation of vote.
Prior to the Committee's action on both texts, it concluded its general debate on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects, hearing statements by the representatives of Fiji, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, South Africa, Congo, Zambia, Russian Federation, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Yemen, United States, Peru, Kenya, Côte d'Ivoire, and Serbia and Montenegro.
The Fourth Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 26 October, to begin its general debate entitled "Assistance in mine action".
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to conclude its comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects, as well as to take action on two draft resolutions relating to decolonization issues -- the question of Tokelau -- and international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space respectively.
Draft resolution V in the report of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples for 2005 (document A/60/23) would have the General Assembly note that the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Tokelau remains firmly committed to the development of self-government and to an act of self-determination that would result in its assuming a status in accordance with the options on future status for Non-Self-Governing Territories contained in principle VI of the annex to General Assembly resolution 1541 (XV) of 15 December 1960.
The Assembly would, by that text, welcome the substantial progress made in the past year towards the devolution of power to the three taupulega (village councils), in particular the delegation of the Administrator's powers to them with effect from 1 July 2004 and the assumption by each of full responsibility for the management of all its public services. It would note, in particular, the decision of the General Fono in November 2003 -- following extensive consultations in all three villages and a meeting of the Special Committee on the Constitution of Tokelau -- to explore formally with New Zealand the option of self-government in free association, and the discussions now under way between Tokelau and New Zealand, the administering Power, pursuant to the General Fono's decision.
By other terms, the Assembly would note that the General Fono has endorsed a series of recommendations of the Special Committee's workshop on the Constitution, held in Tokelau in October 2003 with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), relating to Tokelau's Constitution, the role and functioning of the General Fono, the judicial system and international human rights conventions.
Noting both Tokelau's initiative in devising a strategic economic development plan for the period 2002-2004 to advance its capacity for self-government and that a further plan is now being finalized for the period 2005-2007, the Assembly would acknowledge also the continuing assistance that New Zealand has committed to promoting Tokelau's welfare, as well as the cooperation of the UNDP, including the relief and recovery assistance provided in the aftermath of Cyclone Percy earlier this year.
Further by the text, the Assembly would acknowledge Tokelau's need for continued reassurance, given the cultural adjustments that are taking place with the strengthening of its capacity for self-government and, since local resources cannot adequately cover the material side of self-determination, the ongoing responsibility of Tokelau's external partners to assist the Territory in balancing its desire to be self-reliant to the greatest extent possible with its need for external assistance.
Welcoming the establishment of the Tokelau International Trust Fund to support its future development needs and the facilitation of this process through a donor round table, to be convened by the UNDP following an act of self-determination by Tokelau, the Assembly would call upon Member States and international and regional agencies to announce contributions to the Fund and, thereby, lend practical support to assist the emerging country in overcoming the problems of smallness, isolation and lack of resources.
The Assembly would also welcome the assurance of New Zealand's Government that it will meet its obligations to the United Nations with respect to Tokelau and abide by the freely expressed wishes of its people with regard to their future status. It would call upon the administering Power and United Nations agencies to continue to assist Tokelau as it further develops its economy and governance structures in the context of its ongoing constitutional evolution.
Welcoming the actions taken by the administering Power to transmit information regarding the political, economic and social situation of Tokelau to the Secretary-General, the Assembly would note with satisfaction the successful visit to Tokelau, in October 2004, by the Chairman of the Special Committee on Decolonization to attend the workshop of the Tokelauan Special Committee on the Constitution. It would also note the considerable progress made towards the adoption of a Constitution and of national symbols by Tokelau, the steps taken by Tokelau and New Zealand to develop a draft treaty of free association as a basis for an act of self-determination and the strong support expressed by Tokelauan communities in New Zealand for the move by Tokelau towards self-determination.
The Committee also had before it five amendments to the text submitted by Fiji and Papua New Guinea (document A/C.4/60/L.5), including a new operative paragraph 5 that reads: "Notes that it is the wish of Tokelau, supported by New Zealand, that the United Nations monitor the referendum."
Also before the Committee was a draft resolution submitted by Nigeria on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (document A/C.4/59/L.7), by which the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of international cooperation in developing the rule of law, including the relevant norms of space law and their important role in international cooperation for the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
By that text, the Assembly would endorse the report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and urge States that had not yet become parties to the international treaties governing the uses of outer space to consider ratifying or acceding to those treaties, as well as incorporating them into national legislation.
According to the text, the Assembly would endorse the Outer Space Committee's recommendation that the Legal Subcommittee, at its forty-fifth session, consider among other things, the status and application of the five United Nations treaties on outer space; the definition and delimitation of outer space; and the character and utilization of the geostationary orbit, including ways to ensure its equitable use without prejudice to the role of the International Telecommunication Union.
Further, the Assembly would also endorse the Outer Space Committee's recommendation that the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, at its forty-third session, consider, among other things, the implementation of the recommendations of the Third United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE III) and matters relating to remote sensing of the Earth by satellite, including applications for developing countries and monitoring of the earth's environment; space debris; the use of nuclear power sources in outer space; space-system-based disaster management support; near-earth objects; and space-system-based disaster management support.
The Assembly would, by other terms, recommend that more attention be paid and political support provided to all matters relating to the protection and preservation of the outer space environment, especially those potentially affecting the Earth's environment. The Assembly would urge all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space as an essential condition for the promotion of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
By further terms, the Assembly would request the Outer Space Committee to continue to consider, at its forty-ninth session, its agenda item entitled "Spin-off benefits of space technology: review of current status"; and endorse its decision to grant permanent observer status to the European Space Policy Institute.
SAINIVALATI NAVOTI (Fiji) said he endorsed the five priority areas -- people, doctrine, partnership, organization and resources -- stressed by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, which comprised steps to be taken collectively to enable United Nations Peacekeeping to better serve its mandate. Peacekeeping operations must function to preserve the Organization's image, credibility, impartiality and integrity. Misconduct and perceptions of impropriety were unacceptable and impeded the implementation of mandates, and Fiji condemned in the strongest term all acts of sexual abuse and exploitation committed by United Nations peacekeeping personnel. Troop contributors needed to implement the decisions taken earlier by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. Fiji supported measures to eliminate sexual abuse and exploitation be made part of the performance goals of managers and commanders.
Noting that the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) was located in a challenging environment, he said that the assistance of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in providing the bulk of the equipment for Fiji's personnel serving with the UNAMI was indicative of the Organization's unwavering commitment to ensuring that the country was restored from the rubble of war. The tasks performed by the United Nations Civilian Police personnel required the adaptation of current rules governing their legal status by assigning them immunities equivalent to those of armed military personnel. Civilian police were assigned tasks in which they directly implemented law and order functions, and might be required to use enforcement in accordance with their mandates and rules of engagement.
The establishment of a Peacebuilding Commission offered the promise of preventing parties to fragile peace agreements from relapsing into further conflicts, and allowed a seamless transition from peacekeeping operations to nation building, he said. The Commission should be established by the end of 2005, and States should be able to request assistance from it. The complexity of United Nations peacekeeping operations demanded that the root causes of conflict be addressed in a genuine, coherent, well planned, coordinated and comprehensive manner. The temptation to gain rewards from peacekeeping operations other than to restore stability, guarantee public security and instil the rule of law must be avoided.
HANY SELIM (Egypt) said that peacekeeping operations were undergoing development in operational terms, and it was therefore necessary to develop a balanced interaction among the various elements of the international community. The time factor was important in dealing with peacekeeping, and rapid deployment should be employed in order to avoid having thousands of victims. That, in turn, required beefing up the limited resources of the international community and the Security Council so that it could rapidly arrive at decisions to intervene. It was also necessary to ensure that decisions were not made on the basis of any one particular interest.
Noting with satisfaction efforts to strengthen regional cooperation for peacebuilding, notably in Africa, and the interest that the Secretary-General had shown in settling conflicts across the continent, he called for a strengthening of efforts to further help African regional organizations. The performance of the African Union mission in Sudan (AMIS) showed the real importance of cooperation between the regional body and the United Nations. Egypt thanked the European Union, which had made efforts to beef up Africa's capabilities.
He expressed his delegation's disquiet over sexual abuse and violence, saying that some elements of peacekeeping units had tarnished the image of the United Nation, and that the Organization must take steps to ensure that such deplorable incidents did not happen again.
ABDUL AZEEZ (Sri Lanka), noting that his country had been participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations for several years, said that against the backdrop of constraints caused by a surge in demand for peacekeeping, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had been doing a commendable job. However, the complexity of operations had increased, and the Department was seriously over-stretched. Expansion of the operations could not be sustained without further cooperation from Member States. Hopefully it might be possible to reallocate resources internally. The idea of establishing a Standing Police capacity merited careful consideration.
As a troop-contributing country, Sri Lanka was concerned about the safety and security of United Nations peacekeeping personnel, he said. There might be challenges in that regard that reached beyond the United Nations and, in those instances, efforts must be made to establish a dialogue among all parties concerned. The best method to prevent fatalities was to ensure that all missions were properly planned and appropriately mandated. Adequate training enhanced the effectiveness of a mission, and training opportunities in all multidimensional aspects of peacekeeping would be helpful and Sri Lanka urged the Secretariat to announce training opportunities well in advance. The country had established a Peace Support Training Institute and was willing to provide its use of that facility for conducting United Nations sponsored training courses.
Pointing out that many troop-contributing developing countries sometimes faced shortfalls in equipment, he said that in such instances the Department should facilitate practical and flexible ways to bridge the gap by helping to establish partnerships and trilateral arrangements. There was also a need for closer coordination among all United Nations agencies concerned, as well as with civil society and troop contributing countries. The international community must be prepared to support the long-term course of peacekeeping missions and to give them a chance to succeed. Urgent action must be taken to prevent the recurrence of incidents of misconduct by a small number of United Nations peacekeepers.
U NAY WIN (Myanmar) said that his delegation shared the view that the social, economic and judicial aspects of peacekeeping operations had to be addressed together with the involvement of other relevant United Nations agencies. Myanmar also supported the view that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations should be effectively structured and adequately staffed with men and women of different experiences and expertise. Moreover, owing to the multidimensional nature of peacekeeping operations, their leadership should be properly trained. In that regard, Myanmar welcomed the Secretariat's initiative in completing the standardized training modules for all Member States.
Expressing distress at reports of sexual abuse and misconduct by some peacekeepers in the field, he said such acts of gross misconduct had already called into question the professionalism and integrity of United Nations peacekeeping personnel with serous implications for the future of peacekeeping missions. Myanmar called for the timely and objective enforcement of the code of conduct and prosecution for any violations, such as sexual exploitation and abuse. The selfless devotion of the United Nations peacekeeper should not be tarnished by the dastardly acts of a few individuals.
Myanmar also wished to join others who had called for measures to enhance the safety and security of peacekeeping personnel in the field, he said. From all accounts, a precarious security environment prevailed in most field missions, and more coordination would be required between the Department of Safety and Security and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in order to provide integrated, unified security assessments, operational advice and crisis management.
BONGIWE QWABE (South Africa), associating herself with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that at a time when the United Nations was under sharp scrutiny, peacekeeping alone was testimony to the Organization's indispensable and central role in the maintenance of international peace and security. Peacekeeping operations must have all the necessary resources and support to achieve their mandates and it was, therefore, unfortunate that the United Nations continued to be short-changed by the failure of Member States to ensure that resources allocated were commensurate with the demands and challenges of the field. Most developing countries, while willing to contribute to peacekeeping, lacked the capacity. The developed world, on the other hand, seemed to lack the political will. The time had come for all to overcome those impediments by forging partnerships to address some of the logistical deficiencies.
The role of regional organizations had become increasingly prominent and represented a fuller articulation of the provisions of Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, she said. Further strengthening of the relationship between the United Nations and regional bodies would greatly assist the African Union in key elements of its peace and security action plan. In that regard, the decision of the 2005 World Summit to enhance African peacekeeping capacity by endorsing a 10-year plan for capacity-building with the African Union was welcomed. In Africa, the most critical area of weakness was that of logistics. South Africa welcomed the establishment of the African Peace Facility by the European Union and hoped that Member States would soon define in clear terms how the United Nations could utilize regional organizations that were ready to assist.
She said that the establishment of a standing civilian police capacity would go a long way towards overcoming some of the constraints in deploying civilian police, particularly with respect to rapid deployment. The African Union had agreed to establish a standby force to provide the continent with the ability to intervene rapidly in order to avert conflicts. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Brigade had finalized its own structure to which members had pledged forces in excess of 6,000 soldiers. The attacks on United Nations peacekeepers, such as those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, must be condemned and curbed. More action was also needed to hold accountable those who cloaked themselves in the apparel of humanity but committed abuses against women and children.
LUC JOSEPH OKIO (Congo) said that throughout the world, and particularly in Africa, it was obvious that peacekeeping operations served peace and saved human lives. However, in view of the number of peacekeeping operations deployed today, Congo wondered about the capacity of the United Nations to continue successfully. The Organization's financial situation was precarious, and Member States must improve its finances, particularly with the means to do so.
Greater attention should be paid to countries that were struggling through poverty and underdevelopment, as prevention was better than cure, he said. There must be more sustained cooperation with regional organizations, as well as non-governmental organizations, as there was no doubt that regional actors could play a more active part in peacekeeping. Congo supported the desire for the relationship between the Peacekeeping Department and the African Union to be turned into a strategic partnership.
Emphasizing the need for the United Nations to adopt a global strategy to end sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping missions, he said particular attention should be paid to training all peacekeeping personnel in that respect. Increasing the participation of women at all levels of peacekeeping operations would help to promote the struggle against those violations.
TENS C. KAPOMA (Zambia) was gratified to note that the African Union, through its Peace and Security Council, had taken the lead in responding to the challenges of peacekeeping on the continent. The African mission in Darfur was one example of where that organ had performed well. Nevertheless, the sustainability of such operations required the support of the international community. In that regard, Zambia called on the United Nations to collaborate with strategic partners to enhance support to the African Union in its efforts to develop its capacity to undertake and manage peacekeeping operations in Africa and other parts of the world. That support was required in the areas of training standards, logistical support and funding, among others.
While Zambia was not opposed to the establishment of the United Nations Strategic Reserve, he said that since Africa was the region most affected by conflict, the United Nations and the international community as a whole should give priority to the development of the African Standby Force. Once that force was established, it would cater for the African Union's peacekeeping needs, as well as the Strategic Reserve.
He said the Zambian delegation welcomed the establishment of conduct and discipline units to address the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeeping personnel, and reiterated his country's willingness to join hands with other Member States in abiding by the letter of the preventive practices that had been put in place.
KONSTANTIN K. DOLGOV (Russian Federation) said that the United Nations peacekeeping experience in Africa, especially in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Sudan, as well as Haiti and other conflict areas clearly demonstrated the intrinsic link between the making and maintenance of peace and the comprehensive social and economic rehabilitation of conflict-stricken countries. In that context, it was crucially important to establish a Peacebuilding Commission within the timeframe envisaged by world leaders. That new body should serve as a focal point of peacebuilding efforts and provide assistance to the Security Council and to other United Nations bodies when necessary.
Regional organizations and the United Nations must continue to move closer together, he said. On the one hand, the Russian delegation expected that regional and subregional organizations would promote themselves more actively in terms of providing resources and using their comparative advantages. On the other hand, the United Nations and the Security Council should continue to pay unwavering attention to closer coordination and cooperation with those organizations, especially when it came to peace and enforcement.
In the context of efforts to ensure the rule of law as a basis for the integrated settlement of conflict situations, he said the United Nations civilian police were very important. The Russian delegation welcomed the decision by the 2005 World Summit in favour of creating the initial operational capacity for a civilian police component in the Secretariat. The Russian delegation also called for further improvement of interaction among the Security Council, troop-contributing countries and the United Nations Secretariat as envisaged by the Summit.
SEIFESELASSIE LEMMA KIDANE (Ethiopia), aligning himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that with regard to cooperation between the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the African Union, through the United Nations assistance cell in Addis Ababa, should be further strengthened in order to enhance the regional body's peacekeeping capacities. As there was a need for additional resources, it was to be hoped that the Department would come up with concrete programme and budget proposals. Ethiopia had been playing an important role in establishing the East African Standby Brigade. The efforts of the African Union, and subregional organizations to deal with conflicts should be provided with support in the areas of training, logistics and equipment, both from the United Nations and from partners with the capacity to do so.
He expressed support for the priority areas identified by the Department with a view to implementing the provisions of the Outcome Document of the World Summit. Ethiopia attached particularly high value to the need to establish coherent, United Nations-wide system coordination in the planning, conduct and support of integrated peacekeeping missions, and looked forward to the completion of the inter-agency review and the institutionalization of the Integrated Mission Planning Process, both at Headquarters and in the field.
Ethiopia shared the Secretary-General's concern over sexual exploitation and abuse by some military, police and civilian personnel in various United Nations peacekeeping missions, he said, expressing full support for the Secretary-General's zero-tolerance policy.
LAU YENG PENG (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said Member States must continue to provide firm support for United Nations peacekeeping, especially in the area of human and financial resources. It was not possible to have economic and social progress without peace and stability. It was also impossible for the Organization to meet all the challenges of peacekeeping without the genuine commitment and support of all United Nations agencies, Member States, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and donor countries. The current surge in United Nations peacekeeping was stretching the available resources very thin, and Member States must not only increase their voluntary contribution, but also participate actively and contribute peacekeeping troops, staff officers or military observers. It was important in that regard that developed countries, which possessed well-equipped and well-trained military personnel, to actively help increase the Organization's peacekeeping capability. Appropriate attention must also be given to the need to reform and restructure the Peacekeeping Department so that it could cope with an increasing work load and existing limited resources.
Recognizing the usefulness of cooperation between the United Nations and regional entities, he said that in order for such cooperation to be feasible, the Organization should continue to provide all the necessary support through its larger membership towards enhancing the capacities of regional bodies in peace-making, peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities. However, regional solutions should not absolve the United Nations of its responsibility in peacekeeping. Malaysia strongly condemned the continued attacks against peacekeeping personnel, and in that regard, the cooperation between the new Department of Safety and Security and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in the framework of a unified security management system, must be further strengthened.
MOHAMMED ALI AL-OTMI (Yemen), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the maintenance of peace and security was one of the main responsibilities of the United Nations, indeed, its raison d'etre. Peace and security were the essential prerequisites for achieving the well being and prosperity of all peoples. Peacekeeping operations were a vital tool for the resolution of conflicts and for providing an environment for post-conflict peacebuilding. Yemen encouraged countries that did not participate in peacekeeping operations to do so, as peace was of vital concern to all.
Condemning the killing and kidnapping of United Nations peacekeeping staff, he said that security measures should be stepped up. Yemen had participated in peacekeeping operations by providing military observers and police to several operations. There was a need to ensure equitable geographical distribution in peacekeeping operations so as to give them an international dimension. Yemen had trained and equipped peacekeeping units in preparation for peacekeeping operations. Regarding the Peacebuilding Commission, Yemen supported the decisions of the World Summit, but it was necessary to determine its specific functions.
THOMAS W. OHLSON (United States) said that sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers must be eliminated. Every Member State had been at least partially responsible for the creation of that problem at one time or another, therefore every Member State must play a role in its solution. Every Member State had a duty to investigate and prosecute any of their citizens involved in such crimes, and the United States called upon the United Nations to ensure that Member States did so in a timely, effective and professional manner.
The time had come to re-examine how United Nations peacekeeping was conducted, he continued. A full and comprehensive review of United Nations peacekeeping should be initiated as soon as possible, with a particular emphasis on moving stalemated or static post-conflict situations toward resolution. If a peacekeeping operation did not appear to be advancing the resolution of the issues then the Organization should explore alternatives, or at least consider scaling back or otherwise restructuring those missions, in the interest both of addressing the underlying conflicts, and maximizing the effectiveness of limited resources.
Today's increasingly multidimensional peacekeeping operations were far too expensive, in both human and financial terms to undertake without a clear exit strategy in place from the beginning, he said. As soon as possible after the active phase of conflict had been brought under control by peacekeepers, the Organization should begin the effort to distinguish between those remaining tasks that were appropriate for the Peacekeeping Department and those more appropriately handled by other actors, including Department of Political Affairs, the UNDP and other specialized United Nations agencies. Consequently, some missions should have limited goals and correspondingly limited sizes and resources. United Nations peacekeeping operations should never be allowed to crowd out or substitute for a full and participatory process aimed at complete conflict-resolution leading to long-term and sustainable peace, development and security.
ROLANDO RUIZ-ROSAS (Peru), aligning himself with the Rio Group and Non-Aligned Movement, said that the structures and mandates of peacekeeping operations had varied in recent times as they had taken on a multidimensional character in order to deal with intra-State conflicts. Their military capabilities had been beefed up, and police activities had been undertaken. Such adaptations must be strengthened, but should not distract from the common root causes of conflicts. The Peacebuilding Commission would play an important role in that regard.
He said rapid deployment was an important factor in peacekeeping operations and expressed support for a reaction capability with forces provided by Member States on a voluntary basis and without strings attached. The upcoming session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping would no doubt provide clear guidelines in that regard. Other priorities of the Under-Secretary-General, such as improving staff training and developing a pragmatic doctrine for peacekeeping operations, deserved serious consideration, as did the need to restructure the Department.
Sexual abuse and exploitation by United Nations peacekeepers were a shameful practice that should not go unpunished, he said. There was a need to single out the perpetrators and mete out punishment. Regarding Peru's involvement in peacekeeping, the country had recently increased its participation by increasing staff on the ground, particularly in Haiti, where four Peruvian peacekeepers had recently been injured.
THOMAS B. AMOLO (Kenya) said that successful peacekeeping and elections were just the beginning of a peace process. Many countries emerging from armed conflict had relapsed and, it was, therefore, imperative to follow through with comprehensive peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction efforts. However, it was more economical to prevent armed conflict than to have to deal with it later. In that regard, Kenya paid tribute to the African Union and its Peace and Security Council, which had identified the need for a comprehensive collective security architecture. Kenya called for the support of the international community to enable the African Union fully to realize its goals.
What the African Union needed was no longer institutional capacity, but purely financial and technical resources, especially logistics, he said. Kenya was encouraged by the Secretary-General's report on the enhancement of African peacekeeping capacity, which would go a long way towards containing such situations as that in Darfur, where African Union troops were available, but lacked the necessary logistics. Such possibilities as turning over equipment from closing United Nations missions to the African Union must now be explored and concretized in an agreeable manner, which would enable the regional body to play a greater role in containing and deterring armed conflict in Africa.
While acknowledging the operational effectiveness of United Nations peacekeeping efforts, he said the Peacekeeping Department should continue engaging Member States on initiatives intended to optimize its peacekeeping capacity. To that end, Kenya took special interest in the Secretary-General's Strategic Reserve initiative, which aimed to providing peacekeeping missions with a capable reserve to be called upon when the need arose.
GUILLAUME NIAGRI BAILLY (Côte d'Ivoire), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that to better meet the decisions of the 2005 World Summit, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had established five priority areas, adding that his country attached great importance to the first, namely improving the training, career opportunities and security of staff. The Department's emphasis on training and selection should be encouraged in order to prevent further reprehensible acts by certain members of peacekeeping operations. In that regard, Côte d'Ivoire supported the Secretary-General's zero-tolerance policy.
Partnerships were indispensable for the integrated planning of missions, he said, noting that his country had been going through crises since 2002. Thanks to cooperation between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and the Security Council, resolution 1663 (2005) had been adopted, requiring the Forces nouvelles to start the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and calling for disarmament of all militias and the holding of elections. If partnership with the African Union was a priority for the United Nations, then cooperation in the field should be of equal importance.
Lack of resources was limiting the implementation of peacekeeping operations, he continued, calling for the strengthening of the Department's financial and human capabilities. In areas of conflict, neighbouring countries should prevent any trans-border movements of weapons and troops. Also, peacekeeping operations should respect the principles of impartiality, territorial integrity and the political independence of States. They should not interfere in affairs that were the purview of national authorities.
SLAVKO KRULJEVIC (Serbia and Montenegro) said it was necessary to take a fresh look at the way in which peacekeeping operations were planned and executed. Gathering experience from previous operations was central to that exercise. Only on the basis of an earnest appraisal of what had worked and what had not would it be possible to improve the operation of peacekeeping missions. One of the lessons that the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) offered was that effective disarmament was critical to the overall achievement of stability. Therefore it should be pursued vigorously and without compromise. Unfortunately, in Kosovo, the UNMIK had failed in its disarmament efforts, one of the principle reasons for the volatile security situation in the region today.
Important conclusions could also be drawn from the UNMIK's experience in establishing the rule of law, he continued. Initially, United Nations civilian police had been sent to the province to enforce the law without international justice or prosecutors who could administer justice. That mistake had subsequently partly rectified, but as a consequence, a culture of impunity for ethnically motivated violence, as well as one for organized crime, had emerged.
Turning to the issue of discipline, he said that the recent instances of sexual abuse and exploitation committed by peacekeepers, which his delegation condemned in the strongest terms, had underscored the need to prevent and deal decisively with all forms of misconduct. The Secretariat should spare no effort to that end. Any wrongdoing by peacekeepers shook the credibility of a peacekeeping operation and undermined the confidence of the local population, thus hindering the mission's accomplishments.
Action on Draft Resolutions
MATHILDA TAKAKU (Papua New Guinea), acting also on behalf of Fiji, introduced amendments to draft resolution 5 and said that new developments had occurred since its approval by the Special Committee on Decolonization. She then read out the amendments, as contained in document A/C.4/60/L.5.
TIM McIVOR (New Zealand) said in a general statement before action that a referendum would be held in Tokelau, probably in mid-December, and the results would not be released until all three villages had reported. Both New Zealand and Tokelau had invited the United Nations to send a monitoring team. Hopefully Tokelau's status would change in the second quarter of next year.
The amendments were then adopted without a vote, after which the Committee approved the text by consensus, as amended.
MICHELLE JOSEPH (Saint Lucia), Chair of the Special Committee, said in a general statement after that action, that the process under way in Tokelau was a model for others to follow and congratulated the Government of Tokelau for its steadfast commitment to the advancement of the Territory's people as they moved towards the attainment of free association -- one of the three political-status options recognized by the General Assembly as providing a full measure of self-government. She also thanked the Government of New Zealand for its consistent support for the process.
She said that New Zealand's full participation in the Special Committee's work supported the positive role that the United Nations could play in the decolonization of a Non-Self-Governing Territory and expressed the hope that the remaining administering Powers would resume their participation in the Special Committee's work, consistent with calls by the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, and in furtherance of the promotion of self-government.
ADIGUN A. ABIODUN (Nigeria), Chairman of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, reported on the Working Group of the Whole and introduced the draft resolution on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (A/C.4/60/L.6).
The Committee adopted the resolution without a vote.
Explanation of Vote
HERVÉ DE LA BATIE (France), speaking in explanation of vote after the action, said his delegation associated itself fully with the consensus prevailing on that major issue and supported the Committee's work without any hesitancy. However, the French delegation was not satisfied with the way in which the text had been worked out. It had been submitted to the Fourth Committee in a single language, and discussion on it had to be carried out in that particular language. The French delegation had only received a French-language text yesterday, whereas the Working Group had completed its work on 19 October. That situation was unacceptable as it breached the principle of the equality of official languages. It was to be hoped that next year the text would be submitted in all the official languages as soon as it was published.
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