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Statement by Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Ameerah Haq at Security Council Open Meeting on Inter-Mission Cooperation

12 Dec 2012

Statement by Ms. Ameerah Haq 
Under-Secretary-General for Field Support 
at Security Council Open Meeting on Inter-Mission Cooperation 
12 December 2012   

Mr. President,

Allow me to express my appreciation for this opportunity to address the Council on the subject of Inter-mission Cooperation. I also wish to thank you, Mr. President, for the role you are playing as the Chair of the Security Council Working Group on Inter-mission Cooperation.

In my remarks to you today, I will focus on IMC from the perspective of mission support. IMC in the context of mission support is all about ensuring that troops and civilian personnel, and military and other assets, can be redeployed to another mission at short notice; sustained while in a temporary site due to a mission start-up or crisis; and, ultimately, returned to their original location and intended use. For troops that need to be redeployed, so too must they be provided with adequate shelter. For every contingent sent unexpectedly from one mission to another, so must its lifesustaining requirements be met. And for every helicopter or fixed wing aircraft effectively shared between missions, logistical support in terms of fuel and maintenance must be anticipated – and availed.

Mr. President,  

The past year has provided stark testimony to the diversity of mandates that characterize peacekeeping missions today. Troops and civilian personnel are being deployed in situations where time is truly of the essence. The interval between approval of a Security Council mandate and  the establishment of the mission is increasingly seen as having strategic importance. In this light, delays in establishing a field presence can have a negative effect on the mission’s chances to successfully implement its mandate.

In this context, in Syria earlier this year, the establishment of UNSMIS provided useful lessons in terms of the potential for IMC to play a critical role in expediting mission start-up. For one, neighbouring missions can play a useful role in providing personnel and assets to ensure timely mission start-up. Support from other missions in the Middle East, including from UNIFIL and UNDOF, was critical for the rapid build-up of UNSMIS, which reached operational effectiveness within one month of mandate approval.

The handling of pprocurement and banking services, and managing the freight forwarding activities of UNSMIS were possible only because of assistance provided by these two missions. Care was taken to ensure that IMC in support of UNSMIS had minimal impact on the capacity of UNIFIL and UNDOF to implement their own mandates. Events in Syria have since tragically eclipsed the timely rollout of UNSMIS; but its implementation would not have been possible without a rapid infusion of support from nearby missions.

With regard to crisis response, Hervé has referred to IMC as a temporary “tool of necessity, not of choice.” I share the view that IMC should never be seen as anything more than a stop-gap. It is certainly not meant to serve as the source of long-term solutions.

At the same time, it is also true that IMC works best as a short-term reaction to crisis when arrangements are already in place that allow for flexibility and inter-mission exchange. For example, many commerciallycontracted aircraft in support of UN peacekeeping operations today have a contractual provision that allows them to be used for inter -mission support when needed. This is part of DFS fleet optimization efforts that seek to consolidate and conserve resources for greater operational efficiency. In response to the Haiti earthquake in 2010, for example, heavy cargo-aircraft based in MONUSCO ended up providing logistics support to MINUSTAH.

Last January, in response to the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, MONUSCO aircraft once again helped transport 300 tons of rations for UNOCI troops as well as  100,000 liters of additional fuel from UNMIL. Over the past year, UNISFA has used UNMISS air assets to support rations delivery.

This flexibility in the use of air assets during crisis is reflected in the exchange of civilian personnel as well. After the disaster in Haiti struck, a special recruiting team was deployed from MINURCAT to expedite the arrival in Haiti of qualified personnel, who could get to the task of helping the injured, moving essential supplies, and restoring stability. UNMIT, where I was SRSG, deployed 34 staff members, covering areas such as security, finance, and stress counselling. In fact, civilian personnel from virtually every field mission arrived to fill critical staffing shortfalls after the Haiti earthquake.

Mr. President, 

These examples of successful IMC underscore the primary objective of mission support writ large. The aim is to achieve successful mandate implementation through the provision of support to military, police and civilian personnel in the field. IMC should in this context be seen as a means to address the short-term needs of our troops and colleagues in the field. Sometimes this requires overcoming natural obstacles such as disasters or inhospitable terrain. Collaboration among missions in Sudan has allowed critical support to reach troops despite long-entrenched customs and visa-related obstacles. The needs of UNISFA, as I observed last month when I visited, are still acute. But progress in meeting them is underway due to inter-mission cooperation with UNAMID and UNMISS.

For example, drawing from available assets, UNAMID has provided heavy engineering vehicles to UNISFA on loan for the construction of muchneeded and long-overdue accommodation for Ethiopian troops in Abyei.

Mr. President, 

Decades of experience in peacekeeping have created as-yet untapped potential to improve the quality of mission support while simultaneously reaping efficiency gains and savings.

The goal of responding to the exigencies of peacekeeping operations in a timely way, with high-quality support, in a cost-effective manner, lies at the heart of the Global Field Support Strategy. Its basic premise is that  peacekeeping should not be seen as a series of independent missions but as a global enterprise with which the UN can leverage its presence and bring about efficiency gains and synergies for the benefit of missions and their personnel. Two core elements of the GFSS - the Regional Service Center in Entebbe and the Global Service Center in Brindisi – attest to the importance of putting in place the institutional architecture that allows IMC to succeed. Both are important components of a global network of assets and expertise that can be drawn from when necessary in order to fulfill critical mission start-up and sustainment needs.

Mr. President, 

I would like to thank you once again for the opportunity to address the Council on the subject of Inter-mission Cooperation. Supporting the peacekeeping troops and civilian personnel who confront tremendous risk in our shared pursuit of the vision manifested in the UN Charter is the ultimate objective of our deliberations. We can never lose sight of the centrality of their well-being, which is shaped by the decisions – and support – of this august forum.

Thank you.