World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 

Days Of Fielding Only Unarmed Observers Long Past

Robust peacekeeping here to stay, outgoing chief of UN missions says

29 July 2008 - The days of United Nations missions fielding only unarmed observers are long past, according to the outgoing head of the world body's peacekeeping operations, who said today that peacekeepers need to be able to wield force to get respect and make a difference.

Jean-Marie Guéhenno, who will be replaced by fellow Frenchman Alain Le Roy when he steps down after almost eight years as Under-Secretary-General of Peacekeeping Operations, told reporters in New York that hard lessons had been learned in recent times.

"I, for one, am convinced that force does matter - that we are a long way past the time when peacekeeping started 60 years ago and we would have only unarmed observers: force does matter. To be able to be respected is essential," he said, especially in civil conflicts. "I have pushed for robust peacekeeping in the forests of Congo as well as a deterrent instrument in Sierra Leone, or in the slums of Port-au-Prince [the Haitian capital]," he stressed.

During Mr. Guéhenno's eight-year term, peacekeeping has seen an unprecedented expansion. Today the UN deploys 20 peacekeeping operations around the globe, with some 110,000 personnel in the field - not including the joint Darfur mission with the African Union (UNAMID), which is slated to have 26,000 peacekeepers at full deployment.

However, Mr. Guéhenno cautioned that force was a very blunt instrument.

"The notion that you can enforce a peace is wrong. It's over-ambitious," he stressed. "What you can do is deter spoilers on the margin of a conflict, but peace it has to be made by those who made war. You can help them - you can provide a measure of trust in that transition where they're tired of war but not yet convinced of the good intentions of the other side, and that's where a robust peacekeeping force can make a real difference - but you're not going to impose peace with a UN force."

The Under-Secretary-General said that peacekeeping was essentially a political process and needed the full support of Member States as well as a united Security Council. He called on contributing countries not to skimp on financial support for missions.

"To the financial contributors, to those countries that pay the overwhelming percentage of our budget, I say don't cut on the missions - you'll make them more fragile and you can lose the whole investment," he said.

Quoting recent research Mr. Guéhenno told reporters that the general trend worldwide was for a decrease in conflicts since the Cold War, a process that has been accompanied by an increase in peacekeeping operations, but he said that missions should not be launched without proper planning.

"I have seen in a number of places from Liberia to Haiti to Sierra Leone that a difference was made - insufficient, imperfect - but a difference was made and I think it's important for the United Nations to be able to continue to make that difference... because for many people it's their only hope and the UN is the institution of last resort," he concluded.

ENDS

Latest World News | Top World News | World Digest | Archives | RSS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC