Conferences such as defenceWeb‘s Peacekeeping Africa 2009 event, now underway at Gallagher Estate, have a definite role, says Ambassador Victor Zazeraj, of the Paramount Group.
Speaking at the opening of the conference this morning, Zazeraj said conferences “of this type are terribly important to those of us who are involved in this field because it is so rapidly changing an environment.
“Peacekeeping today is different from two years ago and in two years the problems will again be different from what we discussed today.”
He said the conference is an “opportunity to get together to talk about these matters and learn from each other … an opportunity to enrich our own experiences.”
His audience included delegates from the policy environment, NGOs, aid agencies, researchers and academics, as well as practitioners “all of whom play an important role”.
Zazeraj said a major problem remained the mismatch between the mandates approved by – for example – the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the resources available to discharge that task.
Those “who come from a policy environment or who have spent time in the UN Security Council will know when a conflict situation arises in the world there can be great difficulties finding a resolution.”
He adds that agreeing on a mandate “depends on an enormous variety of factors and often just the composition of the UNSC at that time can have a dramatic effect on the outcome” as there are often competing national, regional and economic interests.
“In trying to put together an acceptable resolution that can deal with the problem … many times after hours of negotiations you reach a point where you think any resolution is better than none, even if the resolution is imperfect.
“The commander on the ground then has a problem because there is an enormous mismatch between mandate – what is required to fix the problem – and the tools they are given to do it with. The solution can be as problematic as the conflict it is meant to resolve.”