Welcome to the United Nations

Remarks to the Security Council

29 Jun 2009
Alain Le Roy

Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman

I would like to thank the Turkish Presidency for holding this very welcome debate on peacekeeping. This meeting follows on the discussions on peacekeeping that were launched earlier this year during the French Presidency of the Security Council. Indeed, I would like to thank all the Member States that have pursued discussions on peacekeeping in different forums these past months. It is a clear signal of our shared interest in supporting UN peacekeeping to meet current demands, to build on its strengths, address its weaknesses, and prepare for the challenges of the future. 

Partnership - the core of UN peacekeeping

The theme of today’s meeting – the relationship between the Security Council and the Troop and Police Contributing Countries – reflects the central fact that UN peacekeeping is a global partnership. It brings together the legal and political authority of the Council with the essential personnel, materiel and finances of the Member States. It also draws together the Secretariat - which must plan and manage the operations and the leaders and people of host countries, whose ongoing commitment to peace is perhaps the single most important factor. And it draws together the United Nations as a whole with the broad range of regional and multi-lateral organizations that work alongside us to address conflict and build peace around the world. 

Each one of the partners brings a vital contribution to peacekeeping. Each depends on the other. Together, this partnership gives UN peacekeeping its strengths of legitimacy, burden-sharing, adaptability and reach.  When all the partners are strongly united behind a peacekeeping operation, it sends an unequivocal signal of international commitment which reinforces the authority of the Security Council and the credibility and effectiveness of any individual operation. 

And of course, if one element of the partnership is weak, the whole project is weakened. Therefore any efforts to strengthen peacekeeping must be holistic and comprehensive. We can't focus on one part, for example the military elements that provide security, without considering the civilian elements that support the troops. We can’t advance new policing concepts, such as the formed police units, without an ongoing dialogue with contributing countries as to the tasks they will carry out and the standards they must attain. There are critical political connections between mandates, planning, budgets and force generation, all of which are addressed in different forums of the United Nations. Commitments in one forum need to translate into resources in others and support on the ground. 

This interdependency means that we need strong frameworks for communication and dialogue, to reach a common, shared assessment of the challenges and potential for peacekeeping. This was perhaps the most valuable contribution of the Brahimi Report almost ten years ago. It helped build a consensus on the nature and direction of peacekeeping that put it on a new and firmer footing. Peacekeeping has grown some five times larger since then, and there is good reason to take stock together, and ensure that the peacekeeping partnership is ready for the challenges of the future.

Mandates are more complex than ever and there is a lack of consensus on how certain mandate tasks should be fulfilled. Political differences exist as to the overall goals and direction of a number of missions. Limited consent from key parties hampers a number of our missions. Needed capabilities, such as helicopters, are not available in sufficient quantity to the UN, hindering mandate implementation in certain missions. Our logistical and administrative systems are overstretched by the scale and tempo of operations in some of the world’s most difficult terrain.  And overarching all of this is the reality that, in the current global environment, financial constraints press us to review the basic models of peacekeeping. Costs, troop numbers, and capability requirements cannot all continue to rise indefinitely. 

And there is no sign that demand is decreasing. On the contrary, factors such as environmental changes, economic shocks, transborder organized crime and extremism may well contribute to political and security instability and lead to new demands for peacekeepers. This means the peacekeeping partnership has to be broad and strong - in terms of the participants and their contributions – as well as deep, in terms of its consensus and unity of purpose. This also means that the full spectrum of responses besides peacekeeping must be available to the international community, including prevention, mediation, and multi-national force deployments.   

A new partnership agenda

The DPKO/DFS New Horizon initiative is our contribution to forming a new Partnership Agenda for peacekeeping. You will have already received an executive brief of a Non-Paper which we will release in July.  The brief contains the main themes we are reflecting upon and the areas in which we will propose some recommended follow up actions. I should stress that we consider that we are at the start of a process of discussion with you. We would see a need to follow up with an intensified in-depth dialogue on thematic issues both in New York and outside.  Many of the issues before us are not new. The objective is to arrive at a set of achievable immediate, medium and long term goals to help configure UN peacekeeping to better meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.

With that in mind the non-paper will focus on:

  • Critical peacekeeping tasks and functions that require a renewed consensus,
  • Measures to improve mission design, resourcing and deployment,
  • Proposals on assessing and building the capacities needed for future peacekeeping
  • A strategy to create a stronger, more flexible support system.

I will not go through all the proposals we make in each area, since you have the brief before you.  I would rather wish to focus my remarks on a few of the issues which, on the basis of my first year in charge of DPKO, I think are top priorities. 

With regard to the first key area, we would argue that there is a need for clearer consensus on the role of peacekeepers in delivering on the protection of civilians mandate.  We also need to establish a better common understanding of the political, strategic and operational aspects of ‘robust peacekeeping’, building on discussions currently underway with Member States.   

As mandates grow more demanding, robust and dangerous, it is essential that there be a strong sense of common purpose and close linkage between the Council’s intent and what TCCs and PCCs are ready to deliver. As the number of mandated tasks grow, we also need greater clarity on the extent of peacebuilding that peacekeeping missions should carry out, and the resources required for this. Security Sector Reform and strengthened Rule of Law are essential to help develop national capacity in the host country. This is extremely important both as part of the exit strategy of the mission, and to allow host countries to rebuild the institutions that allow them to effectively exercise their own sovereignty. Broader peacebuilding also entails beginning early recovery, infrastructure, and employment creation and peacekeeping operations must rely on other peacebuilding partners to help deliver these. Advancing this sort of sustainable development is essential in Liberia, in Timor-Leste and in Haiti. The forthcoming report of the Secretary-General on Peacebuilding will highlight the key areas of peacebuilding in which UN capability needs to be strengthened. 

With regard to the second key area, the design, resourcing and deployment of missions, I would point to the following as priority issues. 

First there is the need to ensure sustained political support for the missions. We underscore the critical importance of an active, functioning political process to address the conflict. Where our peacekeeping operations are struggling, it is usually the case that there is a lack of an inclusive peace process. Darfur illustrates this point. 

No matter how well trained and specialized our peacekeepers are, they can not be successful without a viable peace process. Achievable mandates with clear political goals accompanied by continued political support from the Troop and Police Contributing Countries and the Security Council is key. One way of contributing to this sustained political support is through informal coalitions of Member States focused on individual missions to assist in providing political and materiel support through the life of a mission.

The non-paper also argues that the Security Council should play a role to help ensure that critical capabilities are found. As one option, it recalls the Brahimi recommendation for a two-stage mandating process to help generate the necessary resources to ensure a mandate is achievable before it is finalised.

There is a need to improve Secretariat planning processes and enhance dialogue with the Security Council and Troop and Police Contributors on planning. We will look for ways to advance the dialogue on the Secretariat’s planning process with the Council and TCCs, in particular those countries contributing significant capabilities and volunteering for complex tasks. We will also make proposals for faster, more focused mission start-ups and a better sequencing of deployment, to prioritize earlier deployment of critical capabilities that will advance mandate implementation and credibility. It is also important that we resolve the issue of rapidly deployable contingency reserves for missions that face significant risk of security crisis.

Building future capacity

Mr. President, 
Too many of our missions are lacking critical capabilities. Troops in dangerous environments lack the information and mobility critical for force protection and mandate implementation. I believe a priority will be to agree on the nature of capabilities required for modern peacekeeping. There must also be sufficient incentives to allow UN peacekeeping to obtain these. We operate simultaneously in the jungles in DRC, in the desert of Chad and Darfur and in the urban centres such as Port-au-Prince. Different capabilities are needed in each setting.We believe there is a need to review the procedure for reimbursement of contingent owned equipment to make sure they reflect today’s reality. High-tech equipment can not be reimbursed at the level of an APC.

Out of necessity we have focused our force generation on numbers rather than what capabilities have been needed to fulfill the mandate of a certain mission. Darfur is a very vivid example of this. We must together shift our focus to operational requirements and on how to better generate capabilities, not just numbers.  We need to jointly identify the type of capacity required, including agreed minimum standards for troops and police carrying out UN Peacekeeping while also delivering essential improvements to UN training system. And we must facilitate linkage of bi-lateral training capacities with potential new or existing Troop and Police Contributing Countries in need of specialized training to fulfill the requirements of UN Peacekeeping.

I believe one critical goal of our strategy is to ensure that peacekeeping has the capacities it needs to expand the base of Troop and Police Contributors. There must be more equal burden sharing in the UN system. The Secretariat must also ensure it addresses any outstanding questions regarding command and control that potential TCCs or PCCs may have. 

We also need to increase our interoperability with regional organizations including AU, EU and subregional organisations. Supporting the African Union to build its capacity will be a high priority 

Stronger, flexible support systems

Finally, I take as a priority the articulation of a new Field Support Strategy which DFS is leading.  USG Malcorra will comment further on this, but I would just say that it is clear to me that UN peacekeeping today is the instrument of a hyper-operational United Nations, yet our support systems have not caught up to this new reality. We have to make adjustments in how we support our missions to increase flexibility and efficiency but I will leave it to Susanna to elaborate on this issue.

To conclude my remarks I would like to say that the New Partnership Agenda that we have put forward is one we will need to work on together. Together we must set the agenda for the peacekeeping of tomorrow. We are looking forward to an intense dialogue with you on the way forward.

I look forward to hear more from the members of the Security Council, troop contributing countries and financial contributors and I will endeavour to take account of your perspectives and concerns as we finalise the DPKO/DFS non-paper.

We hope to continue to this dialogue with you in the weeks and months to come. As we approach 10 years since the seminal reforms of the Brahimi report, I believe this is the best way we can honour and protect the achievements of that report, and build on it for the future.

I would also like to close by taking this opportunity to thank the Council for its critical role in guiding UN peacekeeping, and the TCCs and PCCs gathered here for  your contributions to our current and past missions.

Thank you.