Special Peacekeeping Committee opens 2001 session amid calls for improvement

Special Peacekeeping Committee opens 2001 session amid calls for improvement

The need to improve the UN's capacity to conduct peace operations in conflict areas around the world was the focus of discussions today as the annual session of the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping opened in New York.

"We can do better," said Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, summarizing the spirit of Mr. Annan's report on the implementation of the recommendations by the Special Committee and the Panel on UN Peace Operations, known as the "Brahimi Panel" for its chairman, Lakhdar Brahimi.

Mr. Guéhenno said it was no longer possible to perpetuate the "gifted amateurism" that has characterized the UN's approach to peacekeeping so far. With the lives of staff members at stake, he pointed out, the issue could not be treated lightly.

The Under-Secretary-General expressed satisfaction with the solid proposals put forward for improvement, including suggestions on how to better structure the way the UN planned operations, enhance the rapid and effective deployment of forces, improve relations with field missions, furnish properly qualified personnel in sufficient numbers, and ensure the safety and security of personnel in the field.

Speakers in the debate that followed expressed appreciation for the comprehensive nature of the Secretary-General's report and the serious effort under way to tackle the problems facing UN peacekeeping. Several participants said the document provided a clear picture of the needs involved, both in terms of additional requirements and in terms of making better use of existing funds.