National parliaments are natural allies for the United Nations in confronting global crises, from conflict prevention and peacekeeping to the current economic meltdown and climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
“Like you, we are answerable to the world's people,” he told his year’s parliamentary hearing at the UN, an event organized by the world body and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. “And like you, our common aim is building consensus in order to address the urgent issues of the day.”
This year’s hearing is focusing on peacekeeping and conflict prevention, which Mr. Ban stressed was the cardinal mission set out by the founders of the UN.
“And this year, we mark 60 years since the deployment of the first UN peacekeeping operation,” he added, laying out key ingredients for effective peacekeeping.
First, there must be a peace to keep. “The parties to the conflict must be committed to an inclusive political process and disengage their forces. Parties to the conflict must agree to the presence of peacekeepers,” he said.
Second, peacekeepers must have clear and achievable mandates and the necessary means, for unity within the Security Council is essential. Third, peacekeepers must always avoid becoming part of the problem, acting with utmost sensitivity towards the local population and upholding the highest standards of professionalism and good conduct.
Finally, the operational side of peacekeeping within the UN itself must continue on the road to improvement by linking the different elements – headquarters to field missions to funds and agencies – to deliver as one.
“Even with such improvements, we will not be able to control all the elements that make peacekeeping effective,” Mr. Ban said. “But we will continue to learn from our experience and to strengthen our ability to bring relief to countries and communities emerging from armed conflict.
“I worry that these basic conditions are becoming harder and harder to achieve in some of the world's most prolonged conflicts. But even where such conditions are not met, the United Nations has an obligation to act. Indifference is not an option.”
Meanwhile, he stressed, the global financial crisis – devastating as it is – offers an opportunity to promote green economic development.
“Renewable energy offers tremendous potential to improve energy security, spur economic development and address climate change at the same time. These great challenges are interrelated – the global economy, climate change and development. We need solutions to each that are solutions to all,” he declared.
General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto also addressed the parliamentarians, stressing their importance to the UN. “The central role that you as parliamentarians play in ensuring that international policies in the areas of peacekeeping, human rights, development and the environment are reflected in your national debate is of enormous support to us at the United Nations,” he said. “Such debate ensures that citizens understand our work and therefore can better support the Organization.”