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Working Group Meeting on Capability-Driven Approach to Peacekeeping

On Monday afternoon (16 September), the Security Council Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations, chaired by Pakistan, is scheduled to hold a meeting on the capability-driven approach to peacekeeping. Acting Military Adviser Lieutenant General Abhijit Guha and Xavier Devaulx de Chambord, Director of the Operational Support Team at the Department of Field Support, are expected to brief. All troop- and police-contributing countries (TCCs/PCCs) have been invited to participate in the meeting.

In preparation for the discussion, Pakistan has circulated a concept note highlighting the key role peacekeeping mission capabilities play in effectively delivering the mandates of the Security Council. The concept note argues that the capability-driven approach to peacekeeping requires the right number of military, police and non-uniformed peacekeepers, as well as adequate force enablers (specialised units such as helicopters and crews, transport companies or medical personnel), to fulfill the Council’s mandates. This approach, which is aimed at assisting in the planning, preparation and deployment of any peacekeeping mission, faces a number of impediments related to the commissioning and effective utilisation of resources.

This meeting is the third in a series of meetings that the Working Group is planning to hold this year on global peacekeeping issues. (The two previous meetings were on the safety and security of UN peacekeepers and the use of technology in peacekeeping missions). Pakistan, as well as other Council members, view these meetings as an opportunity to promote cooperation on peacekeeping issues among the Security Council, the Secretariat and TCCs/PCCs.

During tomorrow’s meeting, both Council members and TCCs/PCCs might be interested in reflecting on how the Council can better agree upon the establishment and renewal of mandates within the framework of a capability-driven approach. Along the same lines, members might also highlight the importance of improving the current coordination mechanisms between TCCs/PCCs, the Council and the UN Secretariat in order to lessen the possibility of a security vacuum between the deployment or the re-hatting of a mission and its full operational capability.

TCCs/PCCs might also contribute to the debate by highlighting the difficulties encountered in providing critical assets or utilising them in an optimal way, analysing the origin of these difficulties (due to external factors or internal capacity issues), and identifying ways of bridging these gaps, including inter-mission cooperation and commercial options.

Some TCCs/PCCs might raise as well the issue of reimbursement rates. On 10 May 2013, the General Assembly, acting on the recommendation of its Fifth Committee, decided to adjust for the first time in more than a decade reimbursement rates to TCCs/PCCs. The decision (A/RES/67/261) included the reduction of personnel reimbursement rates when the unit is lacking major equipment and recommended the payment of premiums for the contribution of key enablers in short supply. However, some TCCs/PCCs might raise the issue of the absence of a standardised set of rates for equipment. Even though many TCCs/PCCs already have reservations about the idea of linking the status of contingent-owned equipment and troop reimbursements, some Council members might want to take this idea further and discuss the option of developing performance-related financial incentives for TCCs/PCCs, in order to encourage rapid deployment of critical capabilities.

The discussion tomorrow dovetails with the Council’s briefing on peacekeeping by Force Commanders on 26 June, when one of the three main topics addressed was the importance of pre-deployment training in peacekeeping (S/PV.6987). At that meeting, Major General Leonard Ngondi, Force Commander of the UN Mission in Liberia, highlighted the need for an in-mission assessment of pre-deployment training and the TCCs’ capability to self-sustain. Even though TCCs are responsible for pre-deployment training, he argued that “this training should be validated on arrival in the mission area in order to assure the force leadership of the contingents’ operational readiness”. Such early assessment would help to identify and bridge rather common capability gaps in the ability to conduct essential mission tasks or in the maintenance of the contingent’s equipment.

Tomorrow’s meeting also comes as the latest peacekeeping mission established by the Security Council, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), is facing considerable challenges in terms of achieving full operational capability. On 10 September, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, convened the second meeting on support to MINUSMA military and police contingents. In this meeting, member states were briefed by Ladsous on the current shortfalls of MINUSMA’s operational capacity, which is expected to be fully reached at the end of 2013, six months after its deployment. Even though commitments have been pledged some gaps remain, mainly due to the lack of critical force enablers. Before its re-hatting to MINUSMA, initial assessments already indicated that the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) battalions did not include the required enabling units , such as contingent-own equipment and sufficient military aviation capabilities. The grace period of four months set by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to reach the required UN standards through national, bilateral or multilateral assistance is set to conclude on 31 October. It is possible that some of the participants in tomorrow’s meeting may raise the capacity challenges facing MINUSMA, as a concrete example of why a capability-driven approach to peacekeeping is needed.

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