Call for UN peace operations to be reformed


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged immediate action to strengthen the Organisation’s peace operations, telling the 193-member UN General Assembly it is essential to act now and “not wait, as in the past, for crisis or tragedy to propel reform”.
“UN peace operations are a global instrument. Making them fit for purpose is a collective responsibility. I hope today will mark the start of early and concerted action to strengthen a set of vital tools at a time when they are most in need,” he said.

A year ago, the Secretary-General had appointed a panel to asses UN operations and suggests ways to meet challenges faced by both peacekeeping and special political missions. President Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste led the panel along with Under Secretary-General Ameerah Haq, who was Vice-Chair.

Ban cited his implementation report which conveyed support and endorsements for the Panel’s recommendations. He also added that his report called on the Assembly and the Security Council to consider a number of key recommendations directed at Member States.
“It deliberately leaves some of the structural proposals to my successor, but I wholeheartedly support the need for these changes to be given serious consideration. I fully endorse the Panel’s call for a focus on politics, people and partnership,” he said.

The UN chief also underscored the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals last month certifies there can be no peace without development or no development without peace and neither without respect for human rights.

He also highlighted that UN peace operations are political tools which aim to pursue and sustain negotiated political settlements. Peace operations, he said, must be used responsibly and cannot be substituted for a clear political strategy. Nor should they be used to give the appearance of action or given mandates without the means.
“UN peace operations must be judged by their impact on people. They must make every effort to protect civilians and defend the rights of people in conflict. And they must never abuse that trust,” Ban said.

He also pointed out the world today is ‘living in a global turmoil’ where escalating large-scale conflicts and rising violent extremism have displaced over 60 million people, the most since World War 11.

To address these challenges Ban called for strengthened global partnerships to help the UN tackle the “growing complexity of conflict”.

His implementation report sets out an Agenda for Action that translates these priorities into concrete steps over the next 18 months. He stressed the need to bring prevention and mediation to the centre of international peace and security, stating “early action saves money”.

The UN chief also recommended reforming UN peace operations, especially in planning and conduct. He called for more agility and discharging quicker actions to limit the spread of violence and seize opportunities to resolve conflict. For this, he underscored the need for more uniformed and civilian UN personnel who can be deployed quickly and effectively and who will always uphold the highest standards of conduct.

Ban reiterated the need for stronger partnerships within peace operations and its multiple actors such as UN bodies, troop and police contributors, regional organisations, host countries and others. He added that while UN peace operations are an important tool “they are not the only international tool”.
“In our partnerships with regional organisations, we will aim to prioritise standing arrangements for early consultation and rapid response, including bridging arrangements. The African Union is bearing an increasingly heavy burden, along with several of the continent’s sub-regional organisations,” he said.
“There is far more we can do to sustain peace and help post-conflict societies avoid a relapse in to violent conflict. And despite important gains in advancing the women, peace and security agenda, we have still not done enough to involve women in peace processes and other decision-making processes.”