New partnership key to success of UN peacekeeping, say top officials

29 June 2009

As the demand for United Nations peacekeeping continues to grow, the success of current and future operations will depend on the relationship between the Organization and Member States, top officials with the world body said today, calling for a new partnership to ensure the requisite support and resources.

“UN peacekeeping is a global partnership,” Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy said during a meeting of the Security Council. “It brings together the legal and political authority of the Council with the essential personnel, materiel and finances of the Member States.

“It also draws together the Secretariat – which must plan and manage the operations and the leaders and people of host countries, whose ongoing commitment to peace is perhaps the single most important factor,” he stated.

It is this partnership, Mr. Le Roy said, that gives UN peacekeeping its strengths of legitimacy, burden-sharing, adaptability and reach.

“When all the partners are strongly united behind a peacekeeping operation, it sends an unequivocal signal of international commitment which reinforces the authority of the Security Council and the credibility and effectiveness of any individual operation.”

Mr. Le Roy added that, in the current global environment, financial constraints require a review of the basic models of peacekeeping. Costs, troop numbers, and capability requirements cannot all continue to rise indefinitely. And there is no sign, he said, that demand is decreasing.

The Departments for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and for Field Support (DFS) have been working on a New Horizon initiative, to help form a new ‘Partnership Agenda’ for peacekeeping. “The objective is to arrive at a set of achievable immediate-, medium- and long-term goals to help configure UN peacekeeping to better meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges,” he said.

The initiative focuses on critical peacekeeping tasks and functions that require a renewed consensus; measures to improve mission design, resourcing and deployment; proposals on assessing and building the capacities needed for future peacekeeping; and a strategy to create a stronger, more flexible support system.

The head of DFS, Susana Malcorra, noted that the past decade has seen several useful innovations, including the creation of Strategic Deployment Stocks that allow the UN to equip and supply missions more quickly than before, and the establishment of a peacekeeping reserve to allow for “commitment authority” of up to $50 million in advance of a Security Council mandate.

“But both these innovations are not calibrated to the current demands,” she pointed out. “Their ceilings remain static while the overall peacekeeping budgets have more than tripled.”

She echoed the need for a new agenda for partnership, stating that “more of the same” will not do.

“We envisage a more nuanced, targeted approach – with elements of mission support provided globally, others from a regional centre and others at the level of the individual mission. The current model of having a full support component for each and every mission needs to be re-visited,” she stated.

She cited the need to explore options that will lead to, among others, “a lighter mission footprint,” faster turnaround without compromising accountability and oversight, and greater use of local staff and local suppliers.

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