UN Security Council to bolster peace-keeping operations

UN Security Council to bolster peace-keeping operations

The UN Security Council has committed to broadening its approach to safeguarding global peace and security.

The council review of the UN’s far-flung peacekeeping operations concluded that global conflicts need to be dealt with holistically, saying that “international peace and security now requires a more comprehensive and concerted approach”.

To accomplish that, the UN must not only deploy peacekeepers but also put greater focus on diplomacy to prevent conflicts and on developing strategies that encourage peacemaking, the council said in a statement at the end of the two-hour summit meeting.

In some cases, it said, the UN will need to partner with local and regional organisations.

The council, the UN’s most powerful body, has primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security and its peacekeeping operations have increased dramatically since the end of the Cold War.

The number of UN peacekeepers has more than doubled since 2000, with almost 122,000 civilians, military and police currently deployed in 15 peacekeeping operations around the world from Congo and Darfur to Haiti, Cyprus and Sudan.

The Security Council summit took place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting.

The review of peacekeeping was selected as the summit focus by Turkey’s president, Abdullah Gul, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the council.

Mr Gul said the council’s agreement on new goals constituted “a bold and coherent vision” that will strengthen UN efforts at diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding.

There was no mention of specific missions, but UN peacekeepers were criticised in recent weeks for being oblivious to more than 500 gang rapes by militiamen in eastern Congo – including in villages that were 12 miles from a UN base.

There also have been protests in some refugee camps in Darfur, Sudan, that the UN serves.

Some UN peacekeeping missions, like Congo, have been criticised for not having enough troops to protect civilians.

Others, like the joint African Union-United Nations force in Darfur, were deployed in a region where fighting is still taking place. Still others ended without follow-up to ensure that peace was kept.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “last month’s shocking mass-rapes in eastern Congo” a measure of the difficulty the UN faces in fulfilling peacekeeping mandates and providing humanitarian assistance.

He endorsed the council’s goals, saying peacemaking and peacekeeping tools “should be deployed in integrated fashion, not kept in separate silos”.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also condemned the Congo rapes and said the US “will provide new funding” to a UN initiative to combat sexual violence in conflict zones.

She said the US also will provide training in the Congo to counter sexual violence, including the development of justice mechanisms.

“Peacekeeping is no longer enough,” Mrs Clinton said. “It must be accompanied by effective mediation, peacemaking and peacebuilding.”

The Security Council statement said that peacebuilding “requires an integrated and comprehensive approach” that takes into account a broad range of objectives - political, security, development, human rights and humanitarian.

“Peacebuilding perspectives need to be considered starting from the first stages of planning and implementation of peacekeeping operations,” it said.

“The Security Council underlines that sustainable peacebuilding also requires national ownership, the development of national capacities and empowerment of people affected by conflict,” the statement said.

It repeated earlier calls to get more women involved in peacekeeping operations. Women make up just 30% of civilians deployed in UN peacekeeping operations, 7% of the 13,000 police officers and 2% of the 87,000 military personnel, according to UN data.

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