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Peacekeeping grows yet international support uneven – UN officials

Peacekeeping grows yet international support uneven – UN officials

The international community's often faltering support for United Nations peacekeeping operations was making it difficult to maintain gains in key conflict areas, even though the UN has greatly boosted its operations in this field, top officials of the Organization have warned.

“A serious failure in one of our missions would be enough to put at risk the credibility of the whole of peacekeeping, which we have worked so hard to restore over the past few years,” Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations yesterday.

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) is now managing 20 operations, comprising nearly 130,000 authorized military, police and civilian personnel. In Liberia, Sierra Leone, Côte d'Ivoire, Timor-Leste and elsewhere, great strides were being made, Mr. Guéhenno said.

In some countries, however, “at the very moment when international assistance is most needed, the attention of the world is waning.”

He said the extension of State authority and political dialogue in Afghanistan, as well as security gains in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), will suffer without coherent, strategic engagement.

In Sudan, a lack of key support for the hybrid African Union-United Nations operation in Darfur (UNAMID) – including critical air and ground transport, diplomatic and political engagement with the parties – was exacerbating the operational difficulties the mission already faced due to the region's remote and inhospitable terrain.

In addition, the recent temporary relocation of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) from the latter country was seriously challenging the Security Council's authority.

The UN had set up a new Office of Military Affairs and upgraded the Military Adviser's post, and will soon appoint an Under-Secretary-General for the newly created Department of Field Support, among many structural changes. It required the support and unified vision of Member States to meet the challenges ahead, however.

“It is clear to me that peacekeeping works best when the Membership shares a common vision, remains engaged with national actors and views the peace operation as a common endeavour of the international community,” he said.

Also addressing the Special Committee, Jane Holl Lute, Assistant Secretary-General for Field Support, echoed Mr. Guéhenno's concerns.

Given the growing scope and complexity of the Organization's peacekeeping operations, as well as the huge challenges faced across the board, it was more important than ever that Member States support peacekeeping mandates, she said.

In addition to higher expectations from Member States and expanding mandates, there were enormous increases in logistical expenses, including those for aircraft fleets, engineering system contracts, satellite links and other technological advances that would make it possible to meet more peacekeeping challenges.