20 January 2006

Secretary-General Says Peacekeeping Report Offers Insights, Recommendations at Opportune Moment, as Operations Grow in Numbers, Complexity

NEW YORK, 19 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's remarks at the launch of the concluding report of phase II of the Challenges Project:

It gives me great pleasure to join you this morning and to accept, on behalf of the United Nations, the concluding report of phase II of the Challenges Project.  Allow me also to join our chairman in expressing my deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of our colleagues who lost their lives in the cause of peace.

I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds and to the Government of Sweden for instituting the Challenges Project, and for coordinating it so effectively throughout. Let me also congratulate the Member States and organizations that have participated in this initiative.

Your report comes at a very opportune moment for the United Nations. As you know, in recent years the Organization's peace operations have grown tremendously, both in number and scope. Currently, the UN deploys about five times as many troops, police and civilian personnel in peace missions worldwide as it did in 2000, the year of the Brahimi Report. Since then, the challenges of peace operations have only continued to grow, and today have exceeded even the Brahimi report's broad purview. For instance, that report envisaged launching one large peacekeeping mission annually, yet in 2004 we were called on to launch as many as four new operations within a single year.

The need for new thinking with respect to such missions is clear. It is also a challenge that the United Nations Secretariat and Member States acknowledge and accept.  At the 2005 World Summit, world leaders agreed on important measures to strengthen the UN's capacity for peace operations, including the establishment of the Peacebuilding Commission, a new standing police capacity, and a stronger mediation and good offices role for the Secretary-General. They also endorsed collaborations between the United Nations and regional organizations in peace operations, and specifically supported capacity-building measures by regional entities in this area.

As the United Nations strives to enact these and other changes to our traditional peacekeeping functions, the Challenges report will help guide our efforts. Indeed, the report's recommendations for more cooperative and coordinated action by Member States complement our own internal initiatives to strengthen system coherence.

In this context I note with satisfaction your report's strong endorsement of multilateralism. As you say, and the World Summit affirmed, today's most pressing security challenges -- notably those involving fragile states and terrorism -- can only be met through concerted and coordinated multilateral action, at both global and regional levels.

At the same time, the success of our work for peace also requires a holistic rethink in implementing integrated missions. The Challenges report provides important insights into the way forward. It offers concrete recommendations for coordinating such missions better and more effectively through an emphasis on three areas: education and training, rule of law, and regional capacity-building.

The UN today is actively engaged in these areas. Our work on the Peacebuilding Commission and the Standing Police Capacity [which I referred to earlier] are but two illustrations of the way we are adapting to the challenges of current and future peace operations. Of course, as you make clear, an enormous amount remains to be done. We can succeed, but only if Member States remain fully engaged in this evolving effort. That is why, while I assure you that we in the Secretariat will carefully review your recommendations, I also urge you to share your findings with other Member States and regional peacekeeping partners.

I would like to thank everyone involved in the Challenges Project for their commitment and hard work in making this report possible.

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