Research Report

Posted 8 September 2006
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Special Research Report No. 5: Twenty Days in August: The Security Council Sets Massive New Challenges for UN Peacekeeping

Mission RequirementsImpact on UN CapacityImplications for Member StatesReform of UN Peacekeeping CapacityRisksUN DocumentsUseful Additional SourcesA Note on our ChartsAcronymsAnnex

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In only twenty days, from 11 to 31 August 2006, the Security Council adopted three resolutions which seem likely to increase UN peacekeeping levels around the world by approximately 50 percent and perhaps increase the overall cost of peacekeeping from the expected 2006-07 level of US$4.7 billion to possibly US$8 billion per year.

This new Council activity represents the fourth major surge in UN peacekeeping since the end of the Cold War, each bringing new complex challenges. The first was in the early 1990s, followed by a period of retrenchment until the second surge in 1999-2000 with the establishment of UNMEE (Ethiopia/Eritrea) and MONUC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and the two transitional administrations, UNMIK (Kosovo) and UNTAET (Timor-Leste). The third was in 2003-04 when five new large multidimensional operations commenced: UNMIL (Liberia), ONUB (Burundi), UNOCI (Côte d’Ivoire), MINUSTAH (Haiti) and UNMIS (southern Sudan).

This set of Council decisions represents the largest ever increase in new UN operations in one month. They also constitute a resounding expression of confidence by the Security Council in the United Nations and in UN peacekeeping. In essence, the UN contribution to international peace and security seems headed back to the historic high levels experienced in the early 1990s, although it remains to be seen whether and when the operation approved for Darfur will commence.

The political implications of this set of decisions—in particular the role given to the UN Secretary-General with respect to Lebanon—will be explored separately. This report focuses on the likely impacts of these decisions on UN peacekeeping.

Three new highly complex operations have been approved. The details of the August decisions and the missions established are as follows:

  • Resolution 1701 on Lebanon, adopted on 11 August 2006, expanded the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) by 15,000 troops.
  • Resolution 1704 on Timor-Leste, adopted on 25 August 2006, created a new and much larger mission there (the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste, or UNMIT) comprising 1,608 police and 34 military liaison officers.
  • Resolution 1706 on Darfur, adopted on 31 August 2006, expanded the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) by 17,300 troops, 3,300 civilian police and 16 formed police units comprising an additional 2,000 police.

Mission Requirements
All three missions are subject to real urgency for deployment.

The requirements for uniformed personnel are clearly set out in the resolutions. However, each of them also involves very complex political and other tasks included in their respective mandates. Accordingly, the civilian staff requirements, both for substantive and support personnel, will be very significant in terms of both international and national staff.

It seems that there are new requirements regarding command and control being developed for UNIFIL II. At the request of Italy, it seems that an additional layer of military oversight will be inserted into the system, both in the field and at Headquarters in New York. This new requirement is entirely untested and it remains to be seen whether it will be a positive innovation.

As of 31 July 2006, based on UN numbers, we estimate that 65,572 military and 7,250 police were deployed in UN peacekeeping missions worldwide, a total of 72,822 uniformed personnel.

 

Current Peacekeeping Deployments (per year)
  2001-2002 2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006 July 2006
Number of contributors of uniformed personnel 87 88 97 102 107 108
1. Military contingents 38,100 34,901 48,988 55,909 61,748* 62,98
2. Military observers 1,826 1,929 2,022 2,166 2,692* 2,591
3. Police 7,957 6,181 5,251 6,765 7,371* 7,250
Total 1, 2, 3 47,883 43,011 56,261 64,840 71,811 72,822
Source: United Nations, Security Council Report      
*UN projection in February 2006      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The new decisions in August represent increases in peacekeeping personnel as follows:

  • Military personnel: a 43 percent increase over the current worldwide total.
  • Police: an 80 percent increase over the current worldwide total.
  • Civilian staff: our estimate, based on like-sized missions, is that approximately 2,500 will be required—an increase over current worldwide levels by 50 percent.

The decisions increase the authorised strength for UN military and police personnel to around 115,000.

 

Expected Increase in Authorised Uniformed Personnel in UN Peacekeeping Operations, 2006-2007, Arising from Resolutions 1701,1704 and 1706  
  Previously authorised Additions Total
Military 69,700 30,334 100,034
Police 8,713 6,908 15,621
Total 78,413 37,242 115,655
Source: United Nations, Security Council Report

 

 

 

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Impact on UN Capacity
There is simply no precedent in the United Nations for an increase in operations of this magnitude in the space of twenty days. It will present huge management challenges for the United Nations, which has been struggling to improve its capacity to manage the growth in peacekeeping operations from 47,883 uniformed personnel in 2001-02 to 72,822 in July 2006.

The following chart (which includes the new forces authorised by the Council in August) shows the gap between the authorised strength of missions and the actual personnel deployed.

Authorised and Deployed Uniformed Personnel and International Civilian Staff by UN Peacekeeping Operation (as of 1 September 2006)
Mission Authorised Deployed
(as of 31 July 2006)
Difference International Civilian Staff
(as of 30 June 2006)
MINURSO 236* 220 16 123
MINUSTAH 9,151 8,121 1,030 445
MONUC** 18,316 18,094 222 950
ONUB 5,770 3,478 2,292 303
UNDOF 1,047* 1,049 -2 37
UNFICYP 929* 934 -5 35
UNIFIL 15,000 1,989 13,011 100
UNMEE 2,300 2,711 -411 157
UNMIK 2,116* 2,014 102 557
UNMIL 16,365 15,784 581 529
UNMIS*** 33,315 10,253 23,062 696
UNMOGIP N/A 44 0 21
UNOCI 9,315 7,806 1,509 354
UNOMIG 153* 136 17 106
UNMIT**** 1,642 38 1,604 158
UNTSO N/A 151 0 104
Total 115,655 72,822 43,028 4,675
Source: United Nations, Security Council Report    
* figure proposed to the Fifth Committee    
**includes temporary increases for the elections    
***does not include additional support personnel for AMIS    
****deployed personnel for UNOTIL    

Given the other major operational issues facing the UN, such as the second round of elections in the DRC, even one of these new missions would have been a very big task for the United Nations to roll out and manage at this time. Three new missions in the space of twenty days raise very significant issues.

  • The practical implementation of the new mandates is very difficult. Both the Lebanon and Darfur mandates include tasks that are ambiguous, difficult to implement and/or extremely dangerous. Some of these mandate tasks are at the margins, if not beyond, the conventional definitions of peacekeeping in the UN context. For UNIFIL, significant challenges are likely as a result of the parties’ differences about the interpretation of the meaning of resolution 1701, including the responsibility to assist the Lebanese government at its request, and the authorisation to use force to guarantee the discharge of its mandate and to secure its area of operations free from “hostile activities”. For UNMIS, a critical issue will be the practical meaning of its responsibility to protect and “prevent attacks” against civilians, as well as to prevent the disruption of the Darfur Peace Agreement, in a chaotic environment in which the agreement’s provisions are being violated by all sides. Indeed, even the new UNMIT mandate is breaking new ground by undertaking comprehensive security sector assessments which has never been done before.
  • Equipment requirements are expected to be very high as a result of the military challenges in Lebanon and Darfur. Robust military forces and mobility assets have been sought. For Lebanon, in addition, a naval component is expected. These will involve very significant costs. European nations may well bring high value contingent-owned equipment and assets for which there is no UN precedent for reimbursement. In Darfur, the infrastructure and logistical challenges will be at least as significant as those that affected the early deployment of UNMIS in southern Sudan.
  • The force generation problems for Lebanon loom large. It seems, however, that the UN is now likely to be able to obtain the necessary troop numbers and the deployment looks set to be perhaps the fastest in UN history. This return to UN peacekeeping by Europe is important but may bring problems given that, other than Sweden and Ireland, European countries have not served in significant contingent formations with the UN for almost a decade, and may be unfamiliar with UN systems and procedures. For Darfur, though, the force generation situation is very unclear. So far, no Western countries have come forward as troop contributors (TCCs) with the kinds of enabling assets that the Secretary-General has called for. And the UN was only able to find sufficient troops for the operation in southern Sudan after more than one year.

 

Top Twenty Contributors of Uniformed Personnel (as of 31 July 2006)   Top Twenty Contributors of Police Personnel (as of 31 July 2006)
1 Bangladesh 10,126   1 Jordan 713
2 Pakistan 9,797   2 Bangladesh 476
3 India 9,290   3 Nepal 467
4 Nepal 3,510   4 Pakistan 466
5 Jordan 2,798   5 Senegal 465
6 Ethiopia 2,771   6 India 390
7 Uruguay 2,598   7 Nigeria 383
8 Ghana 2,592   8 USA 311
9 Nigeria 2,412   9 Turkey 246
10 South Africa 2,094   10 Ukraine 223
11 Senegal 1,885   11 Germany 197
12 China 1,648   12 Philippines 185
13 Morocco 1,548   13 Romania 177
14 Kenya 1,352   14 China 168
15 Benin 1,288   15 France 150
16 Brazil 1,257   16 Burkina Faso 130
17 Sri Lanka 1,011   17 Poland 128
18 Egypt 931   18 Niger 122
19 Argentina 893   19 Cambodia 116
20 Poland 717   20 Ghana 112
  Top Ten Total 47,988     Top Ten Total 4,140
  Total 60,518     Total 5,625
Source: United Nations   Source: United Nations
  • Police generation has become extremely difficult. Few countries have surplus police officers, and existing missions are not able to recruit suitable staff. MINUSTAH in Haiti, is still 300 police short. UNOCI in Côte d’Ivoire is 500 police short of its authorised level. The global commitment of trained police is already extraordinarily high. The enormous challenge for the UN will be to source sufficient numbers of police without having to sacrifice quality standards and to ensure that well-trained police officers are sent. For the recently authorised police levels in Darfur and Timor-Leste, the expectation is that recruitment and full deployment may take up to two years, and then sustainability will be an ongoing challenge.

 

Authorised and Deployed Police Personnel by UN Peacekeeping Operation (as of 31 July 2006)
Mission Authorised Deployed Difference
MINURSO 6* 4 2
MINUSTAH 1,951 1,622 329
MONUC 1,316 1,132 184
ONUB 120 15 105
UNDOF 0* 0 0
UNFICYP 69* 68 1
UNIFIL 0 0 0
UNMEE 0 0 0
UNMIK 2,078* 1,977 101
UNMIL 1,240 1,011 229
UNMIS 6,015 655 5,360
UNMOGIP 0 0 0
UNOCI 1,200 728 472
UNOMIG 18* 12 6
UNMIT 1,608 26** 1,582
UNTSO 0 0 0
Total 15,621 7,250 8,371
Source: United Nations, Security Council Report
*figure proposed to the Fifth Committee
**from UNOTIL
  • Once the difficulties with generating the military and police contributions have been resolved, new challenges are likely to arise from the lengthy but necessary process of verifying that the contingents are suitable for deployment and trained to UN specifications, in addition to the logistical difficulties with transporting and sustaining many of these troops. (Recent concern about sexual abuse by peacekeepers is one example of why much closer vetting of incoming components has become necessary.)
  • Civilian staff recruitment may also be a major limiting factor. Civilian staff provides, for example, political, humanitarian, human rights and leadership roles, as well as management, accounting, financial control, logistics, security and communications. Those personnel, who are effectively the oil in the peacekeeping mission machinery, cannot be conjured up by simply reassigning existing UN personnel since UN staff rules do not give the Secretary-General the flexibility to do this. New positions have to be advertised and appointments have to go through a rigorous and exhaustive process at the Secretariat Headquarters. At present, it seems that the average post generation and recruitment time for new positions in peacekeeping missions can be around six to nine months.

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Implications for Member States
There will be an expectation that member states will respond seriously to the new Security Council decisions.

However, many Western TCCs have pressures on their military and police capability, due to significant deployments in non-UN peace operations such as in Afghanistan.

Others will be concerned with the recent deterioration of peace processes in situations where their forces are already committed, such as in the DRC and Côte d’Ivoire, and will be conscious of the need to maintain reserve forces as potential reinforcements in the field if necessary.

Potential TCCs will also have to deal with domestic public and political concerns about safety issues in missions such as Darfur. The recent trend of some host nations and parties to a conflict to attempt to pressure the UN by imposing restrictions on UN personnel of various nationalities will also be a worrying factor.

In addition to the risks for TCCs, all member states will be facing very significant increases in their financial contributions as the United Nations begins billing members for these new tasks. Because of past failures by some member states to pay obligatory contributions, the United Nations often suffers from cash flow problems. Accordingly, it is usually necessary to levy member states relatively quickly when new operations are established to meet the heavy start up costs.

The costs of these operations will be very large, perhaps raising the entire peacekeeping bill to just under US$8 billion. But the relative cost is important to note. The following two charts compare the costs over a four year period of UN deployment of personnel versus deployment of military personnel by the United States. (The missions differ—with many of the UN missions being at the lighter end of the scale—but the contrast is nevertheless interesting.)

 

UN Peacekeeping Budget Levels (US$)
2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006
2.6 billion 2.8 billion 4.4 billion 5 billion
Source: United Nations
 
US Department of Defense’s Appropriated Budget for Operation Iraqi Freedom and the War on Terrorism (US$)
2003 2004 2005 2006
80 billion 88 billion 77 billion 116 billion
Source: US Congressional Budget Office

 

Numbers of UN Peacekeeping Uniformed Personnel
2001-2002 2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006
47,883 43,011 56,261 64,840 71,811
Source: United Nations
 
US Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan*
2002 2003 2004** 2005 2006
7,000 157,000 158,000 155,000 149,900
*as of June of each year. Numbers for Afghanistan are for Operation Enduring Freedom
**as of August
Source: US Congressional Research Service, The Brookings Institution

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Reform of UN Peacekeeping Capacity
A detailed discussion of recent efforts to reform UN peacekeeping capacity is set out in the Annex to this report.

The challenge of addressing the United Nations’ peacekeeping capacity and linking it to achievable mandates and adequate force generation arrangements was first addressed in the Security Council in 1994. Much of what was decided in that regard, in a presidential statement S/PRST/1994/22 of 3 May 1994, still holds true today, including the criteria the Council set for itself when it decides to establish a new operation.

Recent efforts at reform of peacekeeping capacity began in 2000, with a decision by the Secretary-General to set up a high level panel to report on the peacekeeping failures in the 1990s and to recommend steps that could be taken to improve UN capacity. The Report of the Panel on UN Peace Operations, or the Brahimi Report, made wide ranging proposals on improving UN systems and processes for the management of peacekeeping operations. Many recommendations were implemented, but some, including some of the more profound changes, were not supported by the General Assembly.

In 2002, the head of UN peacekeeping, Under Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno, warned that, despite the progress with implementing the Brahimi Report, there remained very real risks about the capacity of the UN to cope with a major surge in peacekeeping operations.

The UN did, however, manage in 2003-04 to launch a succession of five large new operations back to back. However, this was only achieved due to additional supplementation of DPKO headquarters staffing to manage deployments.

In 2003, the Henry L. Stimson Center reviewed the Brahimi Report and the steps taken to implement it. They concluded that, while the reforms instituted in 2001 and 2002 had improved the UN capacity to deploy and manage routine peacekeeping, when it came to complex multidimensional operations “(…) the UN may now be only marginally more capable than it was in 1999”.

In 2004, Guéhenno again advised the General Assembly that it would be risky to take on too many operations with too few resources in too many places. He pointed out that “… one of the lessons of the 1990s is that the UN was asked to take on too many peacekeeping operations, with too few resources, in too many places where they did not necessarily belong. Let’s not repeat history.”

By 2006, it had become clear that, despite the Brahimi reforms and DPKO’s reform programmes, peacekeeping and other operational capacity is still being handicapped not only by sector specific problems, but perhaps more importantly by systemic problems in the governance and management culture of the organisation. The Secretary-General pointed out that management reforms involving flexible, modern best-practice human resource procedures were essential if the UN was to be able to appropriately deploy resources to the field.

The Secretary-General’s management reform proposals were debated in the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee in 2006. Member states, however, decided to postpone consideration of that.

Risks
The United Nations is well aware of the risks it faces in situations where it is handed complex new tasks with little time to prepare, especially so after the experience of the previous decade with Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda, the Iraq sanctions and the “oil-for-food” programme. The Security Council has sometimes given virtually insoluble problems to the UN. And the organisation was then left with inadequate resources, unachievable mandates, and at times an absence of political will by member states to see the issues through to a solution. There remains concern, not only in the Secretariat but also among some member states, that the simple authorisation of peacekeeping missions does not of itself solve the problem. Many see a need for ongoing active Security Council oversight and national political processes to drive conflict management and worry whether the political will to commit personnel and funding for these operations will materialise.

Although in recent years the instrument of UN peacekeeping has proven highly resilient and flexible in handling spates of new missions and unusual new mandate tasks, the risks are high. In the current circumstances, the UN again risks being left with the burden and the blame if things go wrong. Particular risks this time arise from the relatively high pace with which the force generation exercise and the hiring of new civilian staff will have to be carried out, as well as the challenges from implementing the mandates themselves.

There are also risks that recruitment, force generation and cost issues arising from the new operations will lead to pressures for premature withdrawal from existing operations. Those will be of concern to a number of Council members and also regional organisations. This concern arises not only because of past experience with unfinished mandates, but also because, in many cases, such as Côte d’Ivoire and the DRC, local protagonists, perhaps sensing or hoping that the Council is otherwise engaged, seem to be backtracking on commitments and violence seems to be re-emerging as an option.

In addition, the role of the General Assembly in approving funding for the new operations is important. It is unlikely that the General Assembly will decline the budget requests for the new operations. Many Non-Aligned Movement members advocated for a UN presence in Lebanon, as opposed to a coalition force. But there will undoubtedly be concerns that the peace and security component of the UN budget is rising to US$8 billion. Arguments will be made that this creates an unacceptable imbalance with the development operations of the organisation.

Finally, there is the ever present risk that additional and unexpectedly large fiscal assessments from the UN will lead to a spike in the arrears and non payments of contributions. This could lead to a cash flow crisis and is a problem that needs to be well managed from the outset.

The bottom line is that the United Nations may again see itself in a situation in which it is under resourced, under staffed and attempting to implement complex peacekeeping mandates with the potential for resumptions of conflict in these highly unstable environments. Public pressure and frustration could lead to reactions similar to those during the crises in peacekeeping in the 1990s.
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UN Documents

 

Selected Security Council Resolutions and Statements
  • S/RES/1706 (31 August 2006) expanded UNMIS’ mandate and strength by 17,300 troops, 3,300 civilian police personnel and 16 formed units comprising an additional 2,000 police.
  • S/RES/1704 (25 August 2006) created UNMIT, comprising 1,608 police and 34 military liaison officers.
  • S/RES/1701 (11 August 2006) expanded UNIFIL by 15,000 troops and expanded its mandate.
  • S/PRST/1994/22 (3 May 2004) addressed issues relating to improving the capacity of the UN for peacekeeping.
Selected General Assembly Resolutions
  • A/RES/60/1 (24 October 2005) World Summit Outcome
Selected Special Reports
  • A/60/692 (7 March 2006) Investing in the United Nations report
  • A/59/2005 (21 March 2005) In Larger Freedom report
  • A/59/565 (2 December 2004) report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change
  • A/55/305 (21 August 2000) Brahimi Report
Other
  • A/60/897 (21 June 2006), 811 (20 April 2006), 810 (20 April 2006), 809 (20 April 2006) and 785 (19 April 2006) ACABQ reports on MINURSO, UNDOF, UNOMIG, UNMIK and UNFICYP
  • A/60/696 (24 February 2006) was the report on the financing of UN peacekeeping operations.
  • GA/SPD/244 (18 October 2002) was a press release on Guéhenno’s remarks to the General Assembly.

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Useful Additional Sources

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A Note on Our Charts
The numbers in our charts are drawn from UN published figures for UN peacekeeping operations. (They exclude DPKO-administered peacebuilding missions such as UNAMA, UNAMI and UNIOSIL, as well as other peacebuilding missions which are led politically by DPA but are supported by DPKO).

All numbers were obtained at the DPKO website, with the following exceptions: (i) numbers of authorised uniformed and police personnel were aggregated by Security Council Report; (ii) for older peacekeeping operations (i.e. MINURSO, UNDOF, UNFICYP, UNMIK and UNOMIG), since the Council did not specify an authorised strength, we present the numbers proposed to the Fifth Committee by the Secretariat, obtained from ACABQ reports for each of those missions (A/60/897, 811, 785, 809 and 810 respectively); (iii) numbers on the chart on peacekeeping contributions up until 2005-2006 were obtained from the 2006 overview of the financing of UN peacekeeping operations (A/60/696) and numbers for July 2006 were aggregated by Security Council Report based on numbers available at the DPKO website; (iv) numbers on peacekeeping budget levels are also from A/60/696; and (v) numbers on US Department of Defense expenditures are from the US Congressional Budget Office and on US troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan are from the US Congressional Research Service and The Brookings Institution Iraq Index and Afghanistan Index.

Some apparent discrepancies in DPKO numbers of military observers and police were noted, but considered marginal (around thirty personnel, plus or minus), or not enough to affect the overall assessment. Discrepancies may reflect month to month fluctuations in the numbers of personnel.

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Acronyms
ACABQ: UN Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions
AMIS: African Union Mission in the Sudan
DPA: UN Department of Political Affairs
DPKO: UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations
DRC: Democratic Republic of the Congo
MINURSO: United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara
MINUSTAH: United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
MONUC: United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
ONUB: United Nations Operation in Burundi
TCC: troop contributing country
UNAMA: United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
UNAMI: United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq
UNDOF: United Nations Disengagement Observer Force
UNFICYP: United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus
UNIFIL: United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
UNIOSIL: United Nations Integrated Office in Sierra Leone
UNMEE: United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea
UNMIK: United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo
UNMIL: United Nations Mission in Liberia
UNMIS: United Nations Mission in the Sudan
UNMIT: United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste
UNMOGIP: United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan
UNOCI: United Nations Operation in Côte D’Ivoire
UNOMIG: United Nations Mission in Georgia
UNOSOM: United Nations Operation in Somalia
UNOTIL: United Nations Office in Timor-Leste
UNPROFOR: United Nations Protection Force
UNTSO: United Nations Truce Supervision Organization
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Annex: Detailed Discussion of Recent Efforts to Reform UN Peacekeeping Capacity
The challenge of addressing the United Nations’ peacekeeping capacity and linking it to achievable mandates and adequate force generation arrangements was first addressed in the Security Council in 1994. Much of what was decided in that regard in a presidential statement S/PRST/1994/22 of 3 May 1994 still holds true today—especially the criteria that the Council laid down for itself to apply when deciding on the establishment of new operations.

Recent reform efforts began in 2000, when, at the request of the Secretary-General, a high level panel was set up to report on the peacekeeping failures in the 1990s and to recommend steps that could be taken to improve UN capacity. The Report of the Panel on UN Peace Operations, or the Brahimi Report, made wide ranging proposals on improving UN systems and processes for the management of peacekeeping operations. Many recommendations were implemented, but some, including some of the more profound changes, were not supported by the General Assembly.

In 2002, the head of UN peacekeeping, Under Secretary-General Jean-Marie Guéhenno, warned that, despite the progress with implementing the Brahimi Report, there remained very real risks about the capacity of the UN to cope with a major surge in peacekeeping operations. He told the General Assembly that he was

“(…) extremely concerned about how the United Nations would manage to field another new robust peacekeeping force if called upon to do so in the near future (…) A perfect DPKO or a perfect mission headquarters cannot substitute for the actual provision of contingents in a timely manner (…) The majority of the troop contributors at present came from the developing countries and they could not–and should not-be expected to shoulder the burden alone.” (Press Release GA/SPD/244, 18 October 2002)

The UN did, however, manage in 2003-04 to launch a succession of five large new operations back to back. However, this was only achieved due to additional supplementation of DPKO headquarters staffing to manage deployments.

In 2003, the Henry L. Stimson Center reviewed the Brahimi Report and the steps taken to implement it. They concluded that, while the reforms instituted in 2001 and 2002 had improved the UN capacity to deploy and manage routine peacekeeping, when it came to complex multidimensional operations “(…) the UN may now be only marginally more capable than it was in 1999”.

It is noteworthy that the Stimson Center report singled out in particular capacity problems in the “rule of law” area.

“(…) capacity to recruit and deploy in the rule of law area still falls short of what is needed to meet present let alone future mission demands rapidly and effectively. Everywhere that complex operations have deployed (…) the singular shortage in international capacity has not so much been troops but police (…)The shortage of police and other rule of law capacity is global, and it is not getting any better because states do not see fit to maintain larger standing police forces than they need instantaneously.” (The Brahimi Report and the Future of UN Peace Operations, Henry L. Stimson Center, December 2003)

In 2004, Guéhenno again advised the General Assembly that it would be risky to take on too many operations with too few resources in too many places.

“(…) we are not resourced or structured to keep launching one new mission after another, while keeping the reform effort on track. During the deliberations on the Brahimi Report, we asked you how many new complex operations we should be prepared to launch in any given year. You indicated one. Yet, we had to launch three in quick succession—in Burundi, Haiti, and Côte d’Ivoire—in the first half of 2004 alone (…)

(….) We are still facing difficulties to put together quickly the right mission leadership teams and to provide them with the type of standardized induction and orientation that they deserve. Quick and transparent recruitment of niche expertise, as opposed to generalists, remains a serious challenge. So, too, is the rewarding of our best performers and the weeding out of the poorer ones. And, there is still a paucity of guidance documents, in the form of updated manuals, SOPs and specific training programmes to help personnel who are new to the UN not only to the hit the ground running, but also to ensure they are pointed in the right direction.

(…) limitless growth is not a smart business model in any field, and especially not in ours where humility should be the rule. Surely, one of the lessons of the 1990s is that the UN was asked to take on too many peacekeeping operations, with too few resources, in too many places where they did not necessarily belong. Let’s not repeat history.” (Remarks of Mr. Jean Marie-Guéhenno, Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations to the Fourth Committee of the General Assembly on 25 October 2004).

The 2004 report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change noted that,

“The real challenge, in any deployment of forces of any configuration with any role, is to ensure that they have (a) an appropriate, clear and well understood mandate, applicable to all the changing circumstances that might reasonably be envisaged, and (b) all the necessary resources to implement that mandate fully.

The demand for personnel (…) remains higher than the ready supply. (…) If international efforts stay on track to end several long-standing wars in Africa, the numbers of peacekeepers needed will soon substantially increase. In the absence of a commensurate increase in available personnel, United Nations peacekeeping risks repeating some of its worst failures of the 1990s.” (A/59/565, 2 December 2004)

In his In Larger Freedom report in 2005, the Secretary-General appealed to the wider membership “to do more to ensure that the United Nations has effective capacities for peacekeeping, commensurate with the demands that they place upon it”, citing the creation of strategic reserves within the framework of UN arrangements as an example.

The 2005 World Summit Outcome expressed support for standby arrangements and stressed “the need to mount operations with adequate capacity to counter hostilities and fulfil effectively their mandates”. It also endorsed the creation of “an initial operating capability for a standing police capacity”.

DPKO has been embarked since 2001 on a range of reform measures, which have been interrupted by large surges in operational activity. In 2005, the department renewed its reform measures to strengthen UN peacekeeping but these are yet to reach full fruition.

By 2006, it had become clear that despite the Brahimi reforms, and DPKO’s reform programmes, peacekeeping and other operational capacity was still being handicapped not only by sector specific problems, but perhaps more importantly by systemic problems in the governance and management culture of the organisation. The Secretary-General pointed out that management reforms involving flexible, modern best-practice human resource procedures were essential if the UN was to be able to appropriately deploy resources to the field. He said,

“Staff skills in the United Nations today are not aligned with current needs. We cannot always attract the best people and we lack the funds to help those we do recruit, particularly in the field, to develop their careers. We have too few skilled managers and a system that does not integrate field-based staff even though it is their skills and experience that the United Nations increasingly needs. To address this:

1. Recruitment should be proactive, targeted and faster.
2. Staff mobility should integrate headquarters and field staff; it should be a condition of service and a prerequisite for promotion; and the authority of the Secretary-General to move staff laterally should be reaffirmed and expanded.” (Investing in the United Nations: for a stronger organisation worldwide, A/60/692, 7 March 2006)

The Secretary-General’s management reform proposals were debated in the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee in 2006. Member states, however, decided to postpone consideration of that.

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