Countries contributing to United Nations peacekeeping missions met in London last week to discuss how to improve the way operations are planned, how to implement the pledges of support made by countries, and how to enhance troop performance on the ground; in other words, the “three Ps” of peacekeeping – planning, pledges and performance.
“Modern peacekeeping demands improved political and military planning throughout the mission lifecycle, with clear and sequenced mandates. It needs Member States to pledge well trained and equipped personnel that give missions the capability to deliver those mandates. And it needs high levels of performance from civilian and uniformed peacekeepers, underpinned by effective and accountable leadership,” the final communique signed by 62 countries* stated.
The conference was a follow-up to the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping hosted last September by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and US President Barack Obama in New York in the margins of the UN General Assembly.
According to the UN Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, the UN leads or supports 36 peace operations on four continents in 30 countries, of which 17 are pure peacekeeping missions. Of the UN Secretariat’s $12 billion budget, peace operations account for over 75%, and of the $3 billion in annual UN procurement spending, 85% is spent on these operations.
“None of us know when and where the next peacekeeping mission might be deployed. But it is probably quite safe to assume that it will not be a calm and easy deployment,” the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, said at the opening of the meeting on 8 September.
Ladsous noted that progress has been made on registering and deploying pledged capabilities, which shows “how determined we all are to turn pledges into better capabilities and real impact on the ground,” but he stressed that a multi-year effort was needed to sustain this level of commitment and determination over time.
He pointed out that “we are still falling short, unfortunately by a large margin” in increasing the number of women in military and police components, and welcomed the final communique’s call for national action plans to raise the number of women in national armed forces and police institutions.
Ladsous said the performance of UN peacekeepers was a collective responsibility, and when individual peacekeepers or units fail to perform their most fundamental duties, there must be consequences. “I cannot overemphasize the importance of effective pre-deployment training in this context, including on the protection of civilians and the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse,” he said.
He praised the rotation system for C-130 transport aircraft in Mali established by a group of five European countries and spearheaded by Norway, saying it would deliver a predictable supply of this asset for years to come. He noted that a similar sharing arrangement for helicopters was being discussed on the sidelines of the gathering in London.
UN Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare, speaking at the end of the one-day conference asked the representatives of Member States to go back to their capitals and help the UN design cost-efficient budgets, provide quick funding, and invest in triangular partnerships with other nations.
* Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Fiji, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Hungary, Finland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, Uruguay, Vietnam and Zambia