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Statement of Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous to the Fourth Committee - Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects

1 Nov 2012
Hervé Ladsous

Dear Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, Let me say what a great pleasure it is to be here with you today and to participate, once again, in this important annual debate. I am very pleased to be joined here by our new Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Ms. Ameerah Haq, who comes to this position with a deep knowledge of peacekeeping and a strong field orientation.

I know you will extend her the same consideration you have shown to me over the past year. Together, DPKO and DFS will work as “two fingers of the hand” to support the 97,000 peacekeeping personnel serving in the field.

I would like to provide you with an overview of our ongoing operations, before making some remarks on the current strategic context of peacekeeping and presenting some of my policy and reform priorities for the next year.

Operational Overview UN peacekeeping remains one of the most visible and critical activities of our Organisation. Our operations are more varied than ever, demonstrating the flexible nature of this indispensable political and operational tool.

Last April, we were asked by the Security Council to deploy a mission to Syria at extremely short notice. This experience has demonstrated that UN peacekeeping can, with Member State support, respond even in the most challenging environments.

Despite the tight timelines and uncertain conditions, a wide range of TCCs promptly offered personnel, and observers from 60 countries were quickly deployed and commenced operations. It proved that swift deployments are possible, and that highly qualified blue berets can make a difference in a complex and challenging environment. Despite these efforts, security conditions on the ground made the work of our observers unsustainable, and the Council decided not to renew the mandate beyond August. All contributors can, in my mind, be proud of the work of their officers, and of the integrity and bravery with which they served. As all of us know, the evolution of the situation in Syria remains extremely concerning and we remain ready to support the efforts of Joint Special Representative Brahimi in bringing peace and a return to stability in the region.

Close to a third of all peacekeeping troops are currently deployed in Sudan, South Sudan and Abyei. In Darfur, the previous large-scale conflict has largely abated since UNAMID was established in 2008. However, challenges remain, with conflict continuing between Government and opposition forces, increased criminality and banditry, and restlessness among militia formerly supportive of the Government.

Progress has also been slow in the implementation of the Doha Document for Peace in Check - 2 - against delivery Darfur. However, in view of the prevailing and projected security situation, the Security Council endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to right-size the Mission’s military from 19,555 to 16,200 personnel, and that of its police from 3,772 to 2,310 personnel. In its second year of independence, South Sudan has faced significant internal security and state building challenges, which UNMISS is helping to address. The relation between Sudan and South Sudan has also, for the most part of 2012, been dogged by a lack of agreement on the resolution of outstanding issues of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including the implementation of security arrangements, oil and financial agreements, the establishment of institutions in the Abyei Area where UNISFA has nevertheless succeeded to successfully restore security in the past year and the demarcation and delineation of the contested border.

Both countries have also accused each other of cross border incursions and of providing support to their rebel groups. If implemented in good faith, the agreements signed by the two countries in Addis Ababa on 27 September should allow them to focus on building two viable and stable states and UNISFA, in particular, will be responsible for supporting the border security arrangements.

In eastern DRC, the situation has significantly deteriorated with the armed mutiny of the M23, which began in April 2012. The mutiny has taken a heavy toll on the civilian population, already suffering from the activities of other armed groups, including the FDLR, the LRA and the ADF. Countries of the regions, under the auspices of the International Conference for the Great Lakes (ICGLR) have proposed arrangements to address the situation, including a border monitoring mechanism and the creation of a neutral international force. MONUSCO will support these efforts, while continuing to support the Government’s capacity to effectively protect the population.

In Côte d’Ivoire, despite progress made towards restoring normalcy since the violent post-election crisis in 2010/11, the country continues to face significant threats and challenges. The root causes of instability are yet to be addressed. The security situation has deteriorated over the past months, particularly in the west and along the border area with Liberia, as well as recently in Abidjan and the east. Efforts underway to facilitate political dialogue, re-launch a DDR process and reform security institutions need to be accelerated. In the meantime, the Secretary-General has recommended that the reduction of UNOCI’s military strength by almost a thousand troops be deferred to next year. As mentioned earlier, we are proceeding to rightsizing flexibly and taking into account the situation on the ground.

In Liberia, the progress in the consolidation of peace allows us to consider the reduction of UNMIL’s military component by approximately 4,200 troops in three phases between August 2012 and July 2015, during which efforts aimed at supporting the Government of Liberia to build national institutions able to maintain stability independently of a peacekeeping mission should continue. During that period UNMIL will support the people and Government of Liberia to take forward the reforms critical for the sustainability of the fragile peace, including national reconciliation, constitutional reform, security sector reform, and extension of state authority and services throughout the country. While significant, the gains achieved in West Africa are extremely fragile and vulnerable to reversal. The situation in the border area between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia remains very unstable, due in particular to cross-border movements of armed groups. UNOCI and UNMIL have Check - 3 - against delivery increased inter-mission cooperation arrangements, particularly following the killing of seven UNOCI peacekeepers on 8 June in the town of Para in western Côte d’Ivoire and the ongoing attacks on the Ivorian side of the border resulting in the killing of Ivorian citizens and security personnel.

In Afghanistan, following the Security Council-requested comprehensive review in 2011, UNAMA reviewed its activities and posture to optimize resources and focus on priority core mandate areas in an increasingly supporting role to Afghan counterparts.

The Mission is also actively preparing the post-2014 phase, particularly in terms of supporting a peaceful political transition, including its support to the Afghan authorities in the planning and organizing of the presidential elections in 2014 by Afghan electoral authorities in 2014 and Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process, as well as furthering coherent international support in line with Afghan priorities.

In Haiti, some progress has been made towards strengthening the country’s democratic and rule of law institutions, as well as in the overall maintenance of security throughout the country, again allowing us to consider a careful and responsible hand-over of responsibility for security from military to formed police units and ultimately to the Haitian National Police. This should translate into a phased withdrawal of approximately 1,000 infantry and engineering personnel from the Mission. The political and economic situation in the country nevertheless remains precarious, and the building of the capacity of the Haitian National Police will take some time.

Finally, in Timor-Leste, following the peaceful and orderly conduct of two rounds of presidential elections and the parliamentary elections in March, April and July 2012, and the inauguration of the new Fifth Constitutional Government of Timor-Leste on 8 August, UNMIT has started a phased drawdown which is expected to lead to the closure of the Mission on 31 December 2012. This is the outcome that we wish for all our Missions, and I wish to pay tribute here to those who have served in Timor (including Ms. Haq), and of course the Timorese themselves, for this formidable achievement.

Looking ahead, we must be prepared for potential future roles for UN peacekeeping whether in Mali, Syria, Somalia, or elsewhere. In Somalia, the United Nations is undertaking a comprehensive Strategic Review of its strategy and presence following the successful end of the transition period in September, in close coordination with the AU Commission and the new Somali authorities. In the meantime, the United Nations continues to support AMISOM through the delivery of a logistical support package and the provision of technical advice to the AU Commission. DPKO, jointly with DFS, will support the AU Commission in assessing AMISOM operations after its successful expanded operations against Al-Shabaab during the course of 2012. DPKO will also continue its role as the UN focal point for counter-piracy efforts off the coast of Somalia.

While we cannot predict when or where our next operation may be mandated or in what configurations, our responsibility is to be proactive in planning for a range of contingencies so we may engage rapidly and effectively if called to action by the Security Council. In this, we will continue, with the support of this Committee, to Check - 4 - against delivery further our partnership with regional organisations. The African Union, in particular, is a vital strategic partner to UN peacekeeping and I am committed to continue to enhance our strategic and operational cooperation, including by remaining innovative and making the optimal use of our resources, building on experiences we had in Somalia and Sudan.

The evolving strategic context In discussing the planning for potential peacekeeping missions, we have reviewed the full range of peacekeeping models. Much attention has been devoted over the last few years to the multi-dimensional Chapter VII protection of civilians missions, and rightly so. But beyond them, the variety of mission models that have been used is striking. Let me put things into perspective: since 1948, there have been 67 operations on five continents, of which 16 are still deployed. At present, operations span three Chapters of the Charter – Chapters VI, VII and VIII. We have stuck to the credo that in peacekeeping, one size does not fit all. Over the years, the United Nations has recognized that the strategic peacekeeping context is a dynamic reality and has adapted to its evolution. We have been designing, reconfiguring and rightsizing peacekeeping operations flexibly. I intend to uphold and strengthen, where necessary, this fine tradition.

In this spirit, one of my priorities is to undertake periodic reviews to ensure the “rightsizing” of our missions – at least once every two years. Each mission must and will be examined on its own merits. Where circumstances merit, we will call for the additional resources and capabilities required to succeed. Where resources are in excess, we shall adjust the size of the mission accordingly. Since addressing you last year, we have undertaken reviews of uniformed personnel in several missions. The collective picture emerging is a modest reduction of uniformed personnel globally.

At the request of the General Assembly, we are currently also reviewing civilian personnel. These periodic reviews are an opportunity to ensure we have not only the right numbers of personnel but the right mix of skills and capabilities to match evolving mandates and changing requirements on the ground.

UN peacekeeping remains a cost-effective and unique arrangement for burden-sharing and collective action that is deeply reliant on global partnership. The Fourth Committee and the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, the C34, have a critical role to play in strengthening and improving peacekeeping. We in the Secretariat welcome the completion and adoption of the C34 report this year. Ms.

Haq and I stand ready to work with you in the year ahead to support your deliberations and enhance them, where you deem it necessary.

Similarly, we also were encouraged by the completion of the work of the Special Advisory Group (SAG) on troop costs and related matters. Troop reimbursement and related issues such as operational readiness and force generation are fundamental to peacekeeping. They are at the heart of the peacekeeping partnership. The issue of reimbursement has proven as difficult and complex as it is important. We truly hope the SAG deliberations have provided a basis for consensus. We look forward to the consideration of the SAG recommendations by the General Assembly and stand ready to assist with their implementation as directed Check - 5 - against delivery The 116 countries currently providing uniformed personnel to our 16 missions are key stakeholders. Over the past year, DPKO and DFS have worked to strengthen engagement with your capitals. Senior colleagues in DPKO and DFS, and I have intensified visits to your capitals. We have worked to expand the base of contributors through participation in regional conferences with potential contributors. Earlier this month in Berlin, USG Haq and colleagues from the Police Division briefed some 200 police executives from over 70 Member States on police tasks and personnel requirements.

Here, in New York, we have briefed TCCs and PCCs in connection with technical assessment missions and mandate renewals as part of triangular cooperation. I believe we are on the right track and of course we are open for suggestions for further strengthening our engagement with you.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank these countries for contributing their personnel to the United Nations and in the service of peace and security. In my visits to 11 missions over the past year, I have seen firsthand the bravery, dedication and sacrifices of these men and women. And, with great respect and deep sadness, I pay tribute to the 73 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in the service of peace this year.

Policy and Reform Priorities I would now like to turn to our policy and reform priorities. As you know, we continue work on the New Horizon reform agenda which we set in 2009. Today, however, I would like to call your attention five issues which I see as priorities for the year ahead.

Military and police capacities First, with respect to military and police capacities, we are working to place effectiveness at the heart of our operations through a “capability-driven” approach. I see the introduction of an overarching quality assurance framework, supported by guidance and training, as a means to improve performance, while also enhancing safety and security. Under this broad performance framework, we have specific initiatives to ensure a practical and field-oriented approach.

On standards, we have developed three sets of initial standards on medical, staff officer training and infantry battalions. We are now working to pilot, with a specific troop-contributing country, the application of the Infantry Battalion Manual, from predeployment through to deployment and rotation.

We are developing a strategic guidance framework for policing to ensure more consistent and standardized approaches to the provision of public safety, police reform and support to host-State police and other law enforcement agencies.

We are working closely with Member States to bolster mechanisms for operational readiness assurance with a focus on the evaluation of deployed uniformed personnel.

In addition, I hope that the General Assembly will support my proposal to put in place an Inspector-General type function to support the Secretariat and Member States Check - 6 - against delivery through assessment of and reporting on the efficiency, effectiveness and utilization of field missions’ military components and formed police units.

In the area of training, we are developing mission-specific training and scenario-based exercises designed for use by Member States prior to deployment as well as for inmission use. These materials are adequate to train decision makers and staff both for units and individually deployed personnel. A package of new mission-specific training materials for UN Infantry Battalions on MONUSCO, UNAMID and UNMISS has been recently approved and disseminated. We have already made a significant step forward with the issuance of revised guidance on pre-deployment testing and assessment of UN police which was developed in close consultation with the Member States. We have provided training for 158 Member States to improve the operational readiness of Formed Police Units. Finally, with regard to training, we have successfully introduced a week long intensive orientation course here in New York for appointed, designated Heads of Military Components and the feedback has been very positive.

We are looking at introducing new technologies such as unarmed Unmanned Aerial Systems to our missions in the DRC and Côte d’Ivoire to support the implementation of their mandates, enhance force protection and staff security and to reduce their dependency on helicopters. I am aware of the sensitivities surrounding the use of such technology and would like to assure you that the use of this technology would be with the agreement of the host countries and in full transparency with all countries concerned.

The timely recruitment of appropriately skilled police personnel remains a challenge, particularly as development of host-state security institutions has become a vital component of several mission mandates. Missions therefore need the capacity to not only mentor and advise, but also to provide specialised support for the work of hoststate police services in all areas of their work. As you know, we have moved forward with standardised job descriptions, systematic mapping of skills gaps in missions and the establishment of a police human resource database. Attracting police expertise with the required language skills also remains a challenge. We already have a fruitful cooperation with the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, but need additional support from Member States. Finally, the global effort to increase female officers has led to an increase from 7.8 per cent to almost 10 per cent in October 2012.

In addition to this broad performance agenda, our peacekeepers continue to require the critical force multipliers and enabling capacities which provide missions with the necessary mobility and rapid reaction capacity. With the support of the C34, joint efforts by our two departments have helped to improve the incentives for contributor countries. I am pleased to announce that over the course of the past year we have reduced the gap in helicopters by half. At the same time, our efforts continue to ensure the serviceability of equipment and identify sources of additional aviation assets, engineering contingents, medical specialists, and transnational organized crime and other specialized police teams. We remain committed to improving the gap list process and to link it more clearly to a systemic response and the force generation process.

Check - 7 - against delivery We have also expanded our resort to inter-mission cooperation, both as a short term and a long term arrangement. As a long term, standing arrangement, it allows us to craft regional approaches to regional issues, such as the LRA. It also allows us to optimize the use of scarce military assets – such as the shared tactical aviation unit between UNOCI and UNMIL. As a short term arrangement, it allows us temporarily to alleviate, in times of crisis, the impact of critical gaps – such as the military helicopters gap in UNMISS. It also allows us to provide rapid surge capacity to missions either in times of crisis, as was the case with UNOCI, or at startup as was the case with UNISFA and UNSMIS. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to troop-contributing countries that consented to the quick redeployment of their personnel or assets. They have helped protect and save many civilian lives.

I would like to emphasize that we should not seek to solve long term problems with short term measures. When used as a short term, stop-gap measure, however, intermission cooperation can provide a timely response for critically needed capacities. I look forward to working with you toward further strengthening intermission cooperation.

Civilian capacities Let me now shift to the second priority area of civilian capabilities and, in particular, rule of law and security institutions. Strengthening the performance and structures of police, justice and corrections institutions, conducting Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), and supporting national security sector reform efforts are ongoing priorities as these areas are vital to consolidating peace. Mine action has long been recognized as a long-standing peace and confidence-builder in postconflict, peacekeeping settings. The protection of civilians as well as of UN personnel and assets increasingly rely on effective responses to the threat of new types of explosives weapons (IEDs). This will be reflected in the new strategy for the United Nations in mine action to be launched in 2013. All these are areas where we need specialized and deployable capacities to ensure we tailor our efforts to the unique demands of each country.

We have an important year ahead. As I mentioned, this is an area of growing demand. DPKO’s rule of law and security institutions team is working to roll out new ways to monitor progress in these difficult areas through use of some indicators developed in partnership with peacekeeping, human rights and development partners.

Furthermore, for the first time, a set of system-wide strategic guidance notes on security sector reform has been developed by the Inter-Agency SSR Taskforce. I urge Member States to continue to provide support for the important work of the Inter- Agency SSR Task force.

DPKO and UNDP will consolidate their expertise in police, justice and corrections and co-locate some existing capacities as part of the Joint Global Focal Point (GFP) arrangement for Police, Justice and Corrections areas in the rule of law in postconflict and other crisis situations. This innovative arrangement aims to help improve coherence across the UN system and serve as an entry point for missions and Member States seeking advice, specialist support and guidance. The success of this effort will depend in part on the availability of adequate resources. I urge Member States to Check - 8 - against delivery support us in this effort as the current proposal does not anticipate any actual increase in staff or resources dedicated to these vital areas.

Critical mandated roles: peacebuilding and protection of civilians The third area relates to the continued work toward improved guidance and training on critical aspects of peacekeeping. Over the past years, we have made important progress on clarifying the role of peacekeepers in peacebuilding. The DPKO/DFS early peacebuilding strategy is a tool to guide mission prioritization and to ensure a focus on advancing security or laying the foundation for institutional strengthening.

OROLSI and DPET, with their combined expertise in Mine Action, DDR, SSR, justice, corrections, police, civil affairs, gender, and child protection, must work closely with political affairs and military peacekeepers to maximize their potential contributions to early peacebuilding efforts.

On the protection of civilians, we can now build on a solid base of guidance and training and focus on application and training. Regional courses have been conducted so far in Latin America and Asia to prepare Member States military, police and civilian trainers. Four of the eight missions with protection of civilians mandates have developed protections strategies and two of them (UNOCI and UNMISS) have undergone POC training to support its implementation. Additional mobile training teams will be deployed in the year ahead. Two additional missions (UNMIL and UNIFIL) plan to develop strategies in the coming months.

Our POC training efforts also incorporate a module on conflict related sexual violence and linkages to child protection training. In addition, outreach and training in these specialized areas advances as well. In the area of police training, for example, 146 police officers from 80 countries have been trained and certified on the UN Police Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) Curriculum and 25 Member States have utilized the UN curriculum creating a pool of 6,064 SGBV investigators.

Recognising the primary responsibility of the host-countries to protect civilians, we are working to develop the capacity of host-state security institutions, particularly police, to sensitise them to their responsibilities to protect, and to strengthen accountability and oversight through justice and security sector reform. We also coordinate closely with capacity-building efforts by bilateral and development partners. We also understand that the best protection is prevention and are focusing on establishing effective early warning mechanisms in our missions.

Strengthened field support arrangements The fourth area is the Global Field Support Strategy through which DFS is putting in place more effective and efficient arrangements with the ability to respond flexibly and rapidly to evolving needs. Ms. Haq will speak to these issues in greater detail.

Holding UN personnel to the highest standards The fifth area I would like to highlight relates to the conduct of our UN personnel.

Both Ms. Haq and I remain personally committed to upholding the highest standards of conduct for all our UN peacekeeping personnel. As we are all aware, just one Check - 9 - against delivery incident of misconduct can overshadow the otherwise exemplary behaviour of all peacekeepers and dent public confidence in peacekeeping. I am pleased to say that the collective efforts of the UN and contributor countries are making a difference.

Misconduct allegations in missions continue to decline, in particular those involving sexual exploitation and abuse. We, together with PCCs and TCCs, need to continue our efforts and ensure full attention to all categories of personnel and to respond to any allegations swiftly and decisively. I also look to our contributors to ensure that the personnel they contribute meet the highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity, including in terms of human rights and criminal records.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, Peacekeeping remains a critical element of a broader international peace and security architecture. It is a very versatile tool but also cost effective. The resources spent by the international community on UN peacekeeping are but a small fraction of global defence spending. Despite UN peacekeeping’s relatively low price tag, a credible body of research credits peacekeeping with contributing significantly to the decline in casualties due to civil wars. The investment in peacekeeping has also prevented and alleviated suffering for an untold number of people. The relative stability peacekeeping offers has also helped restore a measure of confidence of local and international investors in post-conflict zones, increasing economic activity and raising the GDP of these same countries. Put plainly: peacekeeping works.

Peacekeeping seems always to be at a crossroads because it is frequently at the centre of the international community’s response to conflict. This is because it has proven to be an essential and versatile vehicle for political, as well as operational action. Even as we conduct periodic reviews and right-sizing to optimize the use of personnel and resources entrusted to us, we will develop possible concepts and options to meet future challenges. To succeed, we will need the right strategic approach to keep pace with evolving requirements of the countries concerned. To succeed, we will need your partnership, guidance and support. I look forward to working with you in the year ahead.

 [French version]