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Top UN peacekeeping official calls for professional 'core' for field operations

27 February 2006 The head of United Nations peacekeeping operations today called for the creation of a “core” of 2,500 career civilian professionals who would provide an institutional cornerstone for more effective management of UN field operations.

“It is time for us to acknowledge that peacekeeping is a flagship of the UN Organization and as such requires a sustained and comprehensive approach,” Under-Secretary-General Jean Marie Guéhenno told a special committee of the General Assembly, noting that at the end of 2005 there were 17 peacekeeping operations with over 86,000 personnel.

He appealed to Member States for “an institutionalized, professional, and responsive UN peacekeeping capacity as a core and integrated function of this organization.”

The elements that are essential to such an approach, he said, include “well-trained, effective and responsible career personnel, sufficient guidance and resources, and a responsive, transparent structure.”

That structure should, in addition, cooperate efficiently “with a whole range of peacekeeping partners to successfully provide security and support to post-conflict countries,” he said.

In describing such reformed peacekeeping operations, Mr. Guéhenno spoke of the need to create a culture of zero tolerance and zero impunity in confronting fraud and mismanagement.

He also stressed the importance of linking peacekeeping with economic development for sustained peace, a key outcome of the 2005 World Summit. “How sustainable is the security UN peacekeepers bring, if the youths we disarm and demobilize are not quickly provided with alternative means to earn their livelihood?” he asked.

Support to African regional peacekeeping, particularly that of the African Union, is another crucial element, he said. It is also essential to follow through on initiatives to swiftly deploy peacekeeping troops and police, and to address sexual exploitation and abuse.

Mr. Guéhenno acknowledged – given the current surge in peacekeeping responsibilities – that the reform agenda he outlined could not be accomplished in one year, but only through setting specific targets each year for five years, as recommended by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

“This pragmatic, steady approach is the only way in which we can maintain our operational capability and focus while, at the same time, strengthening our capacity for effective action,” he said.

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