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Remarks by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations

21 Feb 2012
Hervé Ladsous

Madam Chair, Members of the Committee,

1. It is an honour to be here today, with Under-Secretary-General SusanaMalcorra, to address the Special Committee at the start of your session.

2. Let me say at the outset that in the first five months since taking up my duties,I have been amazed to witness the great contribution that our peacekeepers makeevery day in the field. I have had the privilege of visiting our troops and police – Ishould say “your” troops and police – and civilian staff in 5 missions so far. Thepresence of the blue helmets and blue berets, on the ground, is a clear manifestation ofthe commitment of the troop and police contributing countries to the cause ofinternational peace and security. As the head of the Department of PeacekeepingOperations, I take it as my duty to ensure that DPKO does everything it can do,everything it must do, to support your men and women on the ground, so that togetherwe can ensure peacekeeping succeeds.

3. The stakes are high. Peacekeepers serve under incredible hardship and atpersonal risk everyday. I have personally witnessed the extremely challengingconditions faced by our troops in Abyei during the start up of UNISFA. I have beento Ntoto in North Kivu and met our troops and learned of their innovative approachesto protecting civilians in the most remote locations. Indeed, millions of people acrossthe globe hold on to the expectation that our peacekeepers will protect them, andpreserve the peace. And we do achieve a great deal on the ground. That is whypeacekeeping remains the flagship endeavour of the United Nations. My first fivemonths has made me well aware too, that the overall structure and systems that UNpeacekeeping relies on are not always optimal. The challenges we face are constantlyevolving, and it is our duty to look, together, at what can be improved. We togetherensure that peacekeepers, and peacekeeping operations, have all the elements theyAs delivered2need to succeed. It is in this spirit that we look to fill the gaps and strengthen theinstrument of peacekeeping. It is in this spirit that I make my remarks today.

4. In my visits to the field, I have been struck by the tremendous diversity ofchallenges that one operational instrument – UN peacekeeping -- has been mandatedto undertake. While some of our missions are charged with a traditional role, such asmonitoring a ceasefire, we also have multidimensional integrated missions whosemandates have evolved over the past two decades to include: implementation of peaceaccords; protection of civilians, facilitation of humanitarian assistance; support toelectoral processes; and strengthening national capacities in the areas of rule of lawand security. This seemingly all-inclusive “multi-dimensional response to conflict”makes peacekeeping a valuable tool in the international community’s efforts to bothrespond to threats to international peace and security and prevent the recurrence ofconflict. It also highlights the need to identify the diverse capacities and build thenecessary global partnerships vital to a successful peacekeeping operation.

5. In line with our diverse mandates and challenges, we see diverse missionmodels emerging. Some missions are undertaken in cooperation with partners, suchas the African Union or European Union, or benefit directly from their deepdiplomatic engagement, as with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development(IGAD) and the Organization of American States (OAS). Other missions areintegrated missions working primarily in collaboration with United Nations agenciesand other humanitarian and development partners.

6. United Nations peacekeeping helps countries torn by conflict to create theconditions for sustainable peace. UN peacekeeping offers a common platform thatcombines political, justice, human rights, gender, child protection and other civilianexpertise with military, police, and corrections experts and myriad logistic andoperational capabilities. The global membership of the UN provides peacekeepingwith a universal legitimacy and a global reach, while specific Security Councilmandates lend political weight to interventions.

7. Peacekeeping remains overall a highly-cost effective policy tool for theinternational community, relative to the costs of conflict or indeed other comparableAs delivered3options. It provides a shared mechanism for all Member States to participate in acollective response where individual Member States or neighboring countries may beunable to do so. As I had the chance to mention in my statement to the FourthCommittee last year, the total expenditure on peacekeeping from 1948 to 2010 isestimated at USD 69 billion. By comparison, while exact figures are difficult toobtain, some estimates indicate that the defense expenditure for 2010 of the 15 topspenders alone amounted to approximately USD 1.6 trillion, or 23 times the cost ofpeacekeeping since its inception more the 60 years ago.

8. I am mindful, at the same time, of the difficult financial situation confrontingmuch of the United Nations membership. I can assure you that we are committed toensuring we optimize the use of all resources entrusted to us. For this reason, theconsolidated peacekeeping budget submissions for the 2012-2013 financial periodpropose a 7.8 percent reduction, amounting to USD 600 million lower than the currentfinancial period.

[Overview of operations]

9. My deputy, ASG for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet will provide youwith a detailed briefing on operational issues on Thursday. Allow me, for now, tobriefly touch upon a few key developments and trends we are currently observing inour missions.

10. The situation which has required most of our attention and effort since I assumedmy functions in DPKO last summer is that in Sudan and South Sudan. My firstofficial travel in November 2011 led me to see how UNMISS, our youngestpeacekeeping mission established in July 2011, supports the nascent state of SouthSudan and its newly created state institutions, in particular through building capacitiesin the areas of rule of law, governance and protection of civilians. Our second newmission in the region, UNISFA, contributes to the peaceful management of SouthSudan’s separation from Sudan, providing for security in the area of Abyei whichboth parties contest. I also visited UNAMID in Darfur, currently the largestpeacekeeping mission and the only hybrid African Union and United Nationsoperation, where I found that while fighting between Government and armedAs delivered4movements has decreased, insecurity arising from banditry and criminality is a seriousconcern. In addition, despite recent progress in the peace process brought about by thesigning of the Doha Document for Peace, reaching a comprehensive and inclusivesettlement will continue to require significant effort on the part of the internationalcommunity.

11. When looking at peacekeeping in West and Central Africa over the past year, theviolent post-electoral crisis in Côte d’Ivoire stands out as it has tested our ability toimplement peacekeeping mandates under extremely adverse circumstances. UNOCInow continues to assist the Government in stabilizing the still fragile securitysituation, strengthening security and rule of law institutions, supporting the DDRprocess, and contributing to national reconciliation. I only three weeks ago had theopportunity to visit another mission with a stabilization focus, namely MONUSCO.

The implementation of the mission’s mandate continues to face significant challenges,not least with regard to the protection of civilians -- an essential part of the missionmandate which, as I could witness myself in Eastern DRC, continues to be hamperedby the shortage in military helicopters.

12. While the situation remains extremely volatile in the Horn of Africa, theDepartment of Field Support, through UNSOA, continues to deliver essentiallogistical services to AMISOM and to the deployment, now begun, of UNPOS intoMogadishu. At the same time DPKO continues to support the African UnionCommission with technical and expert advice in the planning and management ofAMISOM and to plan for a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Somalia, whichthe Security Council intends to establish at the appropriate time.

13. Our peacekeeping operations in the Middle East continue to implement theirmandates, as the impact of the Arab Spring continues to be felt. The peacekeepingmissions in the region remain on high alert to deal with what experience shows uscould be rapid changes in the operational environment. Over the past year, DPKO hasalso contributed towards planning and deploying UNSMIL in Libya, in particular witha view to strengthening the rule of law and security institutions during the country’stransition.

14. An important objective of our missions is to create political space, for politicalsolutions to take root. In Kosovo, for example, UNMIK continues to encourage theparties to demonstrate greater flexibility during the current phase of the dialoguebetween Belgrade and Pristina. During my visit to Afghanistan at the end of last year,I was impressed by the work that UNAMA is doing to promote a coherentengagement by the international community in support of the Afghan Government’spolitical and development agenda. The partnerships that SRSG Kubis has alreadyestablished with Afghan and international counterparts upon his deployment to Kabulon 17 January will be crucial to ensure UNAMA’s effectiveness. In the immediatefuture, in March, the Secretary-General will present his report on Afghanistan to theCouncil and make recommendations on UNAMA’s possible future role and mandate,bearing in mind the ongoing transition to Afghan leadership.

15. We are also witnessing some encouraging signs of progress. Liberia, for instance,despite new humanitarian and security challenges associated with the crisis in Côted’Ivoire, continues consolidating peace and prepares for the progressive handover ofUNMIL’s security responsibilities to the national authorities. In Timor Leste, we areworking closely with the Government and other relevant stakeholders to ensure aneffective joint transition process in anticipation of UNMIT’s expected departure at theend of 2012. In Haiti, the relative stability will allow MINUSTAH to return to its preearthquaketroop and police levels and to concentrate on strengthening the capacity ofthe Government to ensure good governance and uphold the rule of law, which are keyconditions for the Mission’s eventual withdrawal. In each of these cases, challengesremain, but I am convinced that peacekeeping has been able to make a difference at acritical time.

Madam Chair, Distinguished Delegates,[Overview of the New Horizon Pillars]

16. This quick review illustrates the breadth of challenges peacekeepers arefacing. It also demonstrates the importance of various initiatives underway to bettersupport their efforts. I will now turn to these reforms and our focus in the year ahead.

17. With regard to mission management and oversight, I would like to take thisopportunity to recognize the commitment and dedication of our mission leaders whoare working in highly complex and demanding environments. While it is essentialthat they are held accountable, they must also be empowered to lead. Conditions onthe ground often require that we stay ahead of events to prevent escalation andsafeguard lives, including those of our own personnel. We have recently completedan internal evaluation of command and control which confirmed that the architecturethat underpins our command and control arrangements is sound but needs to be moreeffectively implemented. In the coming year we will be working to implement thosefindings. We also need to continue working to strengthen mission strategic planningin order to balance crisis response with a sustained focus on mission strategicpriorities.

18. With regard to capabilities, we still face a global shortfall of 44 militaryhelicopters that are critical to protect civilians and ensure the safety and security ofour personnel. In places as the DRC, Sudan and South Sudan, the lack of roadinfrastructure and the vast areas covered by our operations hinder our efforts toprevent and respond to violence. During the crisis in Jonglei State, in South Sudan,UNMISS’ capacity to respond flexibly to the requirements of the situation wasconstrained by the lack of appropriate helicopters. A similar situation could easilyoccur in other peacekeeping theaters, such as in MONUSCO in the eastern DRC. Atthe urging of this Committee, we have worked to improve our reimbursementprocedures and sharpen our planning and management. But, in the end, we depend onthe Member States to come forward with these assets. We are also exploring the useof more modern technology in South Sudan and I will come back to this point.

19. During the past year, intermission cooperation has also allowed us toovercome some of these critical gaps on a temporary basis. In the context of the 2010presidential elections and post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, three infantrycompanies and utility and armed helicopters were redeployed from UNMIL toUNOCI. Then, in the context of the recent presidential and legislative elections inLiberia, an infantry company and Formed Police Unit personnel from UNOCI wereredeployed to UNMIL. Most recently, MONUSCO provided two military utilityhelicopters to UNMISS to help the mission deal with the crisis in Jonglei. WhileAs delivered7intermission cooperation is only a bridging measure and should not be seen as apermanent solution to address long-term capability requirements, it is a goodillustration of both the our departments’ efforts to address critical gaps in our resourcerequirements, as well as the way Member States provided resources can be usedflexibly and effectively. Triangular cooperation between the Security Council,Secretariat and troop-contributing countries was essential at all phases and hasimproved the operations of our missions on the ground.

20. Another possibility that we are exploring in order to fill some capability gapsis the use of modern technology. We are currently conducting a feasibility study forthe use of simple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in UNMISS, with the consent of the hostauthorities, for area surveillance and reconnaissance. The use of such drones duringthe recent crisis in Jonglei in order to map the movements of armed militias wouldhave enhanced the capability of the Government of South Sudan and of UNMISS toprotect civilians by preventing violence and displacements.

21. In the coming year, DPKO and DFS will continue efforts to ensure that allpeacekeeping components are well-prepared, equipped and enabled to deliver. Wewill be working to improve the gap list process and link it more clearly to a systemicresponse and on efforts to expand the base of contributors and improve our forcegeneration process. We have developed baseline capability standards and guidanceunder three pilot initiatives for infantry battalions, for military staff officers and formilitary medical support; these will strengthen our training and evaluation effortsundertaken in close cooperation with Member States and partner institutions in theyear ahead.

22. In December, the Secretary-General published his first ever report on UnitedNations Police, which describes the functions of the Police Division and thechallenges faced by police components in missions. In the important area of policing,the demands of the field continue to grow and key challenges remain our ability tobackstop missions, to provide guidance, and recruit well-trained and equipped formedpolice units as well as specialized personnel, such as experts in forensics and customs.

This is particularly acute in those missions whose policing mandates go beyondmonitoring and reporting to focus on development of national police institutions. WeAs delivered8must also seek to strengthen all aspects of rule of law chain to guard against creatingimbalances in the justice system and creating the vital foundation of good governanceand stability. Equally, our activities in the areas of demobilization and communityviolence reduction, demining and collection of weapons, penitentiary capacitybuilding,assistance in strengthening national prosecution and military justice, civilaffairs and many other areas - including the security sector management - havebecome indispensable elements of complex, multi-dimensional United Nationsoperations.

23. With regard to civilian capacities, the system-wide Steering Committeechaired by Susana is advancing progress on the Senior Advisory Group’srecommendations, in partnership with Member States. This will improve the abilityof peacekeeping, as well as our important human rights and development partners, toaccess specialized expertise from a range of regions and disciplines. The standingpolice, justice and corrections capacities, supported by this Committee, have fullydemonstrated their value in addressing critical gaps. Examples of their deploymentover the last financial period include assistance to UNOCI, MONUSCO andUNAMID in critical times and to UNMISS and UNISFA in start-up phases. Workhas begun on a core curriculum for civilian staff. We have also briefed thisCommittee on the development of technical guidance in the areas of rule of law,security sector reform, DDR and policing.

24. The Global Field Support Strategy, which has evolved under Susana’s strongand able leadership, is the third pillar in our efforts to improve the performance ofmissions. Susana will speak to progress achieved over the last year on this importantpillar.

Madam Chair,

25. This Committee has worked closely with us to clarify the roles ofpeacekeepers to ensure strong political and operational support for their efforts.

Through sustained dialogue with Member States, field operations and other UNpartners, we have a framework to inform Mission-specific protection of civilianstrategies. Also with input from this Committee and our missions, we have a betterAs delivered9analysis of the resources and capabilities required for the successful implementationof protection of civilian mandates. We will also deploy training materials, includingscenario-based training, to further assist the eight missions with a protection ofcivilians mandate. Finally, we are beginning to define ways in which our missions canbetter support national capacities to protect civilians.

26. We have also made progress in clarifying the peacekeeping- peacebuildingnexus and in developing a strategy to help missions prioritise and sequence thoseearly peacebuilding initiatives for which peacekeepers have a comparative advantage.

Looking ahead, we will continue work in the Integration Steering Committee tofurther develop frameworks and strategies to strengthen transition processes and tomaximize the contribution of peacekeeping to socio-economic development.

Ensuring that the efforts of peacekeepers fit within a country’s longer-termpeacebuilding process is vital to ensuring a sustainable peace.

27. We have also reported back to the Special Committee on the three regionalconferences held on deterrence, use of force, and operational readiness. We standready to further engage with the Committee on these important topics. In particular,we look forward to exploring further modalities to undertake operational readinessevaluations either with Member States, regional training institutions or other partners.

Madam Chair and Members of the Committee,

28. The work on this comprehensive reform agenda is in support of two coreobjectives: to maximize the prospects of success in achieving peace and, linked tothis, to give our SRSGs, Force Commanders and Police Commissioners and allpeacekeeping personnel the tools to deliver on their Security Council mandates.

29. Our leadership must be able to count on realistic and achievable mandatesfrom the Security Council matched by adequate resources, and, from peacekeepingpersonnel, the prompt and professional execution of all mandated tasks. Asconfirmed in my recent field visits, most military and police formed units areperforming in an exemplary manner. Wherever they exist we need to address,however, recurring performance problems. These may be due to an overall lack ofAs delivered10capability owing to insufficient or inadequate training, contingent-owned equipmentand/or self-sustainment capacity, to command and control deficiencies, or troops- andpolice-contributing countries’ caveats on the engagement of their units. Where theseissues are sufficient to imperil the successful execution of the mandate, or threaten toimpact the credibility of the mission, we must work together to address anyshortcomings rapidly and effectively. We are also considering steps to strengthen ourinternal mechanisms to identify existing or emerging problems and potentialsolutions.

30. In my remarks to the Fourth Committee, I stressed that safety and securitywould be a top priority for me. We all know that peacekeepers deploy into volatilecircumstances and harsh terrain. We know that the United Nations throughout theworld is increasingly a target of extremists. We are deeply grateful that the MemberStates have invested in the programmes, physical security and personnel requirementsto improve the safety and security of our personnel. But, I would be remiss in myduties, if I did not share with you today my concern – sharpened through my visits toSudan, Darfur, South Sudan, Afghanistan and – most recently – the DemocraticRepublic of Congo – on the need to continue to invest in the security of our personneland to take every feasible measure to protect them. In 2011, 113 peacekeepersperished, through targeted attacks, violence, banditry, natural disaster, plane crashes,safety accidents, illness. I know that you join me in paying honour to their serviceand our obligation to do our utmost to prevent casualties.

31. A high priority of my department in the year ahead is related to the goodconduct and discipline of our peacekeeping personnel. The vast majority of ourpeacekeepers serve honourably in the field. Unfortunately, however, the acts of ahandful can tarnish the good name of thousands and even sabotage a mission. Ourzero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse must be matched with 100%attention and accountability. I know that Susana will speak more fully on the subjectin a few minutes, but I wanted to highlight that I share fully and deeply her concernthat we need to redouble our efforts to eliminate the scourge of breaches of disciplinethat jeopardize the hard-earned trust of the people and countries we are mandated toserve. Together with Susana – I am determined to take effective action to addresssuch acts and hope we may count on your continued leadership and support. I believeAs delivered11that together with Member States we must improve the processes that can ensure UNpeacekeepers conform to the highest standards of integrity, including respect forhuman rights. Over the next year my department will be reaching out to MemberStates to explore opportunities to improve our performance in this regard.

Madam Chair,

32. I would like to end my remarks where they began: with the importance of theglobal partnership that sustains UN peacekeeping. I have discussed several initiativesby the Secretariat where the contributions of Member States are critical. But there arealso areas where Member States must lead.

33. I have already discussed the need to close gaps in critical assets, such asmilitary helicopters, particularly military utility helicopters. We also need the fullsupport and partnership of Member States in ensuring compliance with our zerotolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.

34. Unified political support of the Member States has always been and remains acritical factor in the success of UN peacekeeping. For this reason, I have welcomedthe progress made on triangular cooperation and encouraged further measures to worktoward the strategic consensus and informed decision making that is at the essence ofthese reforms. I have provided examples where we are working in this manner andwelcome thoughts on how we can further help to achieve the goals of strategicconsensus and informed decision making that is the essence of triangular cooperation.

35. I am aware that many of you are engaged in efforts to improve the workingmethods of this Committee. We stand ready to support your efforts in any wayneeded. Under-Secretary-General Malcorra and I today have endeavoured to providea clear picture of the challenges facing missions, our evolving responses, andmeasures we feel are needed to further strengthen our collective efforts.

36. I would close by applauding the many contributions that you, the MemberStates, have made and continue to make to peacekeeping. Some have shouldered aAs delivered12large burden during the rapid expansion of UN peacekeeping. Others have made newor expanded contributions to UN peacekeeping even in this difficult financial climate.

I assure you of our firm commitment to be responsible stewards of the valuablehuman, material, and financial resources the mandates entrusted to us. It has been mygreat privilege over the past five months to meet some of the many dedicated andexperienced personnel serving in our missions around the world, far from families andfriends, and I thank them deeply for their service and dedication to the cause of peace.

Thank you, Madam Chair and Distinguished Delegates.