Tackling the Peace Operations Dilemma: Q&A with José Ramos-Horta

Warren Hoge, Senior Adviser for External Relations at the International Peace Institute, interviewed Chair of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, José Ramos-Horta, on his views on the way forward for UN Peace Operations. The United Nations must strengthen relationships with regional organizations such as the African Union in peace operations and seek to remain neutral in responding to increasingly complex crises, according to José Ramos-Horta, head of the recent UN High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO). HIPPO released a report containing more than 100 recommendations for reforming UN peace operations in June this year, with a Secretary-General’s response following in September. Both the HIPPO and Secretary-General’s reports advocated a cautious approach to the use of force in peace operations, but Mr. Ramos Horta admitted there were difficulties in implementing this when UN missions were increasingly deployed to unstable environments. “It’s extremely dangerous for the UN and there are no easy answers, obviously, to this dilemma,” he said in an interview with International Peace Institute Senior Adviser Warren Hoge. Nonetheless, Mr. Ramos Horta said the UN cannot be seen to be a party to conflicts, because it would lose credibility and authority and become unable to exercise a mediation role. “So there has to be a strong resistance on the part of the Secretariat and the Secretary-General to demands from the Security Council for intervention in areas that are very volatile, complex and where you have a mixture of terrorism, extremism, etc.” he said. The HIPPO report recommended the UN remain committed to the “primacy of politics” and to putting more emphasis on prevention mechanisms and mediation, which...

UN Secretary-General Press Release

SG/SM/17214-GA/11704-PKO/531 Secretary-General, Opening General Assembly Debate, Outlines Action Agenda That Places Prevention, Capabilities, Partnerships at Core of Peace Operations Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the General Assembly’s formal debate on peace operations today: I thank the President of the General Assembly for bringing us together for an especially timely debate on how best to strengthen United Nations peace operations. In recent years, all of us have grown deeply concerned about the escalating challenges confronting UN peace operations — both peacekeeping and special political missions. One year ago today, I appointed an eminent panel to assess our operations and suggest ways to meet these tests. President Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste, with wide-ranging national and UN experience, was uniquely suited to lead this effort.  Ms. Ameerah Haq, who served as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and also as Vice Chair of this panel, has also had extensive exposure to the realities the United Nations faces in the field.  I am very pleased that both are with us today. The task was ambitious and the time was short.  Yet the Panel delivered a report that was wise and bold, and reflects the results of consultations with diverse stakeholders in every region of the world. I thank the Panel for its outstanding service on behalf of all those around the world living under the threat or the reality of conflict. Last month, I submitted to you my implementation report.  It conveys my strong support for the Panel’s recommendations and identifies those areas where I believe we can move forward immediately. My report calls on the General Assembly and the Security Council...

Remarks by the President of the General Assembly on the HIPPO-implementation report of the Secretary-General

Opening remarks by Mr. Mogens Lykketoft, President of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly General Assembly at Plenary Debate: Strengthening of the United Nations system: Report of the Secretary-General (A/70/357) 12 October 2015 Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Peace operations are at the heart of UN’s global engagement. They are among the major innovations since the UN’s inception which have enabled this Organisation to better fulfil its mandate and have contributed greatly to peace and security in our world. But peace operations, like any tool, are in constant need of refinement. Evolving challenges and threats to international peace and security make it necessary for the UN to strengthen its role, capacity and efficiency and more particularly the effectiveness of field operations. Today’s debate is both necessary and timely. The dramatic global refugee crisis and the other humanitarian as well as security dimensions of ongoing crises, demonstrate just how complex today’s conflicts have become. In light of these new realities, we must review our practices and instruments, how we approach policy and operational questions, and how we address budgetary and management issues. I therefore commend the Secretary-General for having taken the initiative to launch this review. The high-level independent panel on peace operations consulted widely and their work resulted in a number of concrete recommendations. Subsequently, member states have received the Secretary General’s implementation report. Having examined these important contributions, it is now up to the membership to consider how this key initiative can be transformed into concrete steps that ensure the UN’s peace operations can adequately respond to our changing world. This is...

Without consensus on where to send UN peacekeepers, pledges are meaningless

The News & Observer Without consensus on where to send UN peacekeepers, pledges are meaningless By Emma Campbell-Mohn and Kyle Beardsley 8th October 2015 “…while world leaders pledge to send their armed forces to peacekeeping missions, the Security Council often struggles to find common ground on where to deploy the peacekeepers. The permanent five members of the Security Council – the U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China – all have veto power over Security Council resolutions. A failure of these five countries to agree on common objectives and to cede some of their unilateral influence to an international mission helps explain why there’s no robust peacekeeping missions in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.” Read the full article...

The new U.S. policy on peacekeeping

Foreign Affairs Keeping a Piece of Peacekeeping By Paul D. Williams 6th October 2015 The author argues that American policy for peacekeeping, that was presented during the 2015 World Leaders Summit on Peacekeeping is long overdue. The policy is the first of its kind in 21 years, the last being written in the wake of the “Black Hawk down” episode in Somalia in October 1993. The document represents a sensible and important step towards making UN peace operations more effective—and toward enabling Washington to play a constructive role in that process. Read the article here.    ...
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