15 May 2006

Fourth Committee Approves Text Calling on Peacekeeping Committee to Continue Efforts to Enhance United Nations Peacekeeping Capacity

Key Issues Discussed Include Rapid Deployment of Forces, Conduct, Discipline, Regional Cooperation

NEW YORK, 12 May (UN Headquarters) -- The General Assembly would decide that the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations would continue its efforts for a comprehensive review of the whole peacekeeping question, review its previous proposals and consider new ones, so as to enhance United Nations capacity to fulfil its responsibilities in that field, according to a draft resolution approved by the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) this afternoon.

By other terms of the text, which was approved without a vote, the Assembly would welcome the Special Committee's report and decide to include, in the provisional agenda of its sixty-first session, the item entitled "Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all its aspects".  It would also request the Special Committee to submit a report on its work to that session.

Also by the text, the Assembly would endorse the proposals, recommendations and conclusions contained in paragraphs 28 to 188 of the Special Committee's report.  It would also urge Member States, the Secretariat and relevant United Nations organs to take all necessary steps for their implementation.

The Assembly would, by other terms, reiterate that those Member States that would become contributors to United Nations peacekeeping operations in years to come, or participate in the Special Committee as observers for three consecutive years, would, upon written request to its Chairman, become members at its following session.

Introducing the draft resolution, Committee Rapporteur Tarek Adel (Egypt) said it resembled those of past years.  Among other things, it reiterated the modalities for participation in the Special Committee and decided that the Special Committee, in accordance with its mandate, should continue its efforts for a comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.

Fourth Committee Secretary Zhang Saijin said that, should the General Assembly adopt the text, implementation of some of the Special Committee's recommendations would entail resource requirements, which had been considered within the context of the peacekeeping support account for the period 1 July 2006 to 30 June 2007.  The budgetary implications of some of the recommendations would require further study, and would be taken into consideration in the subsequent budget of the peacekeeping support account.  Adoption of the draft resolution would, therefore, not give rise to any financial implications, at the current stage.

In another action, the Committee adopted the report of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (document A/60/19).  Introducing it, the Rapporteur said the Special Committee attributed great importance to the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel, and called for clear guidelines and procedures for information sharing between the Secretariat and troop-contributing countries, particularly in cases of fatalities.  The Special Committee had asked that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations increase the capacity of field missions to use information technology, to ensure timely and effective dissemination of information to field commanders.

With regard to conduct and discipline, he said the report stressed the responsibility of managers and commanders to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.  It called for the preparation by the Secretariat of a strategy for victim assistance, a proposal on national investigation officers and a revised model Memorandum of Understanding.  The Special Committee had also decided to create an Ad Hoc Working Group of Experts to review those documents and hold a one-day session to consider the advice of the Group of Experts, before the end of the sixtieth session of the General Assembly.

Rapid deployment continued to be an important topic, he said, noting that the Special Committee had considered three options for enhanced rapidly deployable capacities at this year's session, on the basis of work undertaken by an informal working group: a strategic reserve; regional capacities in support of United Nations peacekeeping operations; and inter-mission cooperation.  The Special Committee had also endorsed the creation of the Standing Police Capacity and requested the Secretariat to undertake a review of the working of that capacity, by the end of its first year of operation.

Regarding cooperation with regional arrangements, he said the Special Committee had welcomed the Secretary-General's proposal to move beyond discussions of possible frameworks for cooperation, and implement concrete modalities for operational cooperation.

In a general statement after the Committee's approval of the draft resolution, the representative of Austria, on behalf of the European Union, said that, with some 90,000 civilian and military personnel deployed in the field, peacekeeping issues should merit more attention from the Special Committee, than just one session a year.  More time should be focused on thematic debates and, the spring session, which would continue to focus on the report, should be shortened.  The time freed up could then be allocated to additional short sessions, dedicated to in-depth discussion of substantive peacekeeping issues.

Morocco's representative, speaking on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement, deplored the delay in distributing the Special Committee's report in all the official languages, and stressed the need to communicate all documents to Member States by normal channels on paper.  Electronic versions could not replace the forwarding of hard copies as official transmissions.

The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General's report on implementation of the Special Committee's recommendations (document A/60/640), which reviews progress in the context of an assessment of United Nations peacekeeping reform over the past five years.  It considers the evolution of global peacekeeping in that period, and the current challenges facing United Nations peacekeeping in effectively supporting and strengthening transitions from conflict to sustainable peace.  The report proposes an agenda to meet those challenges, based on five priority areas for reform: partnerships, doctrine, people, organizations and resources.  The report also includes an annex detailing the Secretariat's progress in implementing the Special Committee's recommendations, made at its 2005 resumed session, on a comprehensive strategy to eliminate future sexual exploitation and abuse in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Co-sponsoring the draft resolution were Argentina, Canada, Egypt, Japan, Nigeria and Poland.

The Fourth Committee will meet again on 8 June to elect the Chair and other members of the Bureau for the next session.

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