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Remarks to Security Council open debate on transition and exit strategies for peacekeeping operations

12 Feb 2010
Ban Ki-Moon

Monsieur le Président,
Mesdames et Messieurs les représentants, 
Mesdames et Messieurs,

Je remercie la France d'avoir pris l'initiative de fixer notre attention sur la question cruciale des stratégies de transition et de retrait des opérations de maintien de la paix.

Pris au sens le plus large, notre objectif devrait être bien clair : les Casques bleus devraient s'employer sans relâche à mettre fin eux-mêmes à leur travail.

Mais bien sûr, il y a loin entre le démarrage d'une opération et son retrait, bien des étapes doivent être franchies, et la voie à suivre est pavée de difficultés et de dangers, de revers et d'écueils.

Over the years, we have learned many valuable lessons about how best to ensure a transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding and, ultimately, to societies that can function and maintain stability on their own.

Considerable work is under way to strengthen our response to conflict.

Last year, the Security Council held a series of valuable debates on mediation, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. Member States, the UN system and our partners have gained a common understanding of the challenges involved. I welcome today's debate as a further step in making the best possible use of all our tools and assets.

The United Nations must be ready to help national authorities to implement peace agreements, re-establish core government functions, restore the rule of law and achieve at least a minimum level of sustainable security throughout their territory.

We must promote reconciliation and inclusive political processes, help provide basic services, and help generate employment and economic activity.

All of this is essential for addressing the roots of a crisis, sustaining peace and achieving a viable exit strategy for UN peacekeeping missions.


The UN's engagement in a country emerging from conflict will closely track the path that country takes.

We are usually present well before a peacekeeping operation is deployed. We will usually remain well after the exit of our blue helmets.

The post-peacekeeping UN presence might be a Special Political Mission, a Peacebuilding Office or some other configuration. It might be large and multidimensional, or small and specialized.

Whatever the case, peacekeeping activities must pave the way for what comes next.

For peace to be sustained, there must be an overarching strategy that unites the efforts of all UN actors and the international community, and that strengthens national capacity.

The past decade has seen a continuous surge in UN peacekeeping operations.

No-one can predict the future, but in the years ahead we are likely to focus not so much on new missions, but on ensuring that current missions – and their successor presences – can help consolidate peace and support lasting stability so they can withdraw.

To achieve this, a peacekeeping mission requires a good entrance.

This was emphasized in the 2001 report to the Security Council titled 'No exit without strategy'.

Allow me to recall that one of the authors of that report, Andrew Grene, was among those who perished in the earthquake in Haiti.

His legacy lives on in a report whose recommendations remain valid today.

A good entrance means that the very mandate of an operation addresses the root causes of a conflict.

It means charting a path out of violence through a solid and sustainable peace process.

It means articulating a clear goal which can be jointly owned by national stakeholders and the international community.

And it means the timely allocation of enough human and material resources –including, if necessary, the rapid deployment of standing police and other civilian capacities.

Exits must be equally well considered from the very outset of a mission.

In assessing whether and when a peacekeeping operation should be drawn down, we must look at the strength of national governance structures, including for security and the rule of law.

We must consider the prospects for socio-economic recovery.

We must examine the risks that a country could backslide into conflict, and ask whether the security guarantee provided by uniformed peacekeepers is still needed.

We must look at how to reconfigure our presence. Drawing down in one area, such as security, might require temporary strengthening in another.

Peacekeeping missions should not stay longer than necessary.

But we should also be wary of withdrawing prematurely only to have to return because of renewed violence.

A key lesson of the 1990s was the need for some type of follow-on presence to protect gains and continue the process of building durable peace.

In several recent cases, the transition has been made to a UN Peacebuilding Office.

But other models, such as regional offices, could also be considered.

Such presences may have smaller footprints, but still have complex and demanding mandates.

They require resources and the support of the Security Council, the Peacebuilding Commission and the wider international community.

This year's review of the UN Peacebuilding architecture is thus very timely.

We should discuss the transition from the core security components of a peacekeeping mission to longer term peacebuilding.

And we should also reflect on how the Peacebuilding Commission can engage early.

Mr. President, Excellencies,

The engagement of UN Country Teams is critical throughout all phases of peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

But the UN is only one of many international actors in peacebuilding.

Regional institutions, bilateral partners and international financial institutions are also engaged.

We need all these partners to be working coherently, with a shared sense of purpose.

If stakeholders pursue competing individual agendas, all our efforts will suffer.

We must guard against this risk.

Our collective results will determine when and how a peacekeeping operation can exit.

I urge that we explore how to ensure that the Security Council has the necessary benchmarks and information -- including the advice of the Peacebuilding Commission and the input of host governments -- to measure progress.

Mesdames et Messieurs les représentants,

Trois de mes représentants spéciaux sont parmi nous aujourd'hui pour nous faire bénéficier de leur grande expérience et de leurs réflexions concernant les stratégies de transition et de retrait.

Les pays où ils mènent leur activité illustrent les différentes phases dans lesquelles peuvent se trouver les initiatives de maintien de la paix et de consolidation de la paix des Nations Unies, ainsi que les différents modèles qui existent et les différents problèmes auxquels on se heurte.

L'action menée par ces trois missions est d'une valeur inestimable, car elle a permis d'établir et de consolider la paix et de donner espoir à des millions d'hommes et de femmes.

J'espère que nous saurons en tirer les enseignements, et aussi tirer pleinement profit de ce que peuvent nous apprendre tous ceux qui prendront la parole aujourd'hui.

Je vous remercie.