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Peacekeeping Chief Tells Of Major Challenges

UN Peacekeeping Chief Tells Of Major Challenges Ahead As Missions Expand

With the Security Council set to create or expand its peacekeeping missions “on an almost unprecedented scale,” the United Nations faces considerable political, logistical, recruitment and security challenges, the UN’s most senior peacekeeping official said today.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, made the remarks in his regular report to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, a General Assembly body set up to review operations and recommend ways to reform peacekeeping missions.

Mr. Guéhenno told the Committee that UN missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Liberia have recently expanded, a mission in Côte d’Ivoire is about to begin and missions are proposed for Burundi, Haiti and Sudan.

“Today we have some 48,000 troops deployed. Before the end of this year, we may be called upon to field 70,000 troops,” Mr. Guéhenno said, pointing out that several of the world’s biggest military forces are already engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said any new missions should have a clear and precise mandate so that “limited resources” can be allocated across the expanding number of missions.

The head of peacekeeping said reforms in recent years meant the UN was better placed to rapidly provide essential equipment to the field, and making sure troops were appropriately supported with resources.

But he also said that recruitment remains a problem, with particular trouble finding skilled civilian personnel to fill mission jobs.

“We do not have enough to meet current demand, let alone reach the tentative projects of 2,000-plus additional staff we could easily need for forthcoming missions, without compromising our ability to deliver support at Headquarters.”

Mr. Guéhenno said the UN’s ability to gather information and develop intelligence also needs to be enhanced to better protect peacekeeping staff from potential threats.

“We are closely assessing how the security management system can be improved. I would urge Member States to give every consideration to bolstering the UN’s capacity in this fundamental area,” he said.

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