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UN officials stress inter-mission cooperation as vital to filling critical peacekeeping gaps

12 December 2012 – United Nations officials today highlighted inter-mission cooperation between peacekeeping operations as an important tool to fill critical gaps in personnel or equipment, especially during so-called surge periods such as during elections, security crises or natural disasters.

"Time and space are key considerations when responding to a crisis. It is about the ability to deploy the right resources to the right place, at the right time and with the right capabilities," the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, told the Security Council, as it met to discuss UN peacekeeping operations.

"Inter-mission cooperation (IMC) fills gaps, if temporarily and on a relatively limited scale," he added.

While there is no official definition of inter-mission cooperation, Mr. Ladsous noted that it involves the temporary transfer or sharing of personnel and assets contributed by Member States between two or more missions, often in geographical proximity to one another.

"IMC is by no means a new tool," he stated, recalling that the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, known by the acronym UNMIBH, contributed some uniformed personnel towards the starting up of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) in 1999.

More recently, missions in a number of African countries provided logistical support to the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) in the wake of the devastating earthquake which struck the Caribbean nation in January 2010, while civilian personnel from virtually every field mission arrived to fill critical staffing shortfalls. This year, support from several Middle East missions was critical to getting the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) operational.

While not new, IMC has gained additional appeal in recent years due to several factors, the peacekeeping chief noted. These are the recurrent gap in some "critical enablers and force multipliers," such as helicopters; the rationalization of scarce resources amid the current financial climate; and the flexibility and versatility of IMC.

In her remarks to the Council meeting, the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Ameerah Haq, stressed that IMC should not be seen as anything more than a "stop-gap" and should be used as a temporary measure to fill critical gaps or provide for a surge.

"IMC in the context of mission support is all about ensuring that troops and civilian personnel, and military and other assets, can be redeployed to another mission at short notice; sustained while in a temporary site due to a mission start-up or crisis; and, ultimately, returned to their original location and intended use," she stated.

Ms. Haq noted that the goal of responding to the exigencies of peacekeeping operations in a timely way, with high-quality support, in a cost-effective manner, lies at the heart of the Global Field Support Strategy.

"Its basic premise is that peacekeeping should not be seen as a series of independent missions but as a global enterprise with which the UN can leverage its presence and bring about efficiency gains and synergies for the benefit of missions and their personnel," she said.

Two core elements of the Strategy – the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe and the Global Service Centre in Brindisi – attest to the importance of putting in place the institutional architecture that allows IMC to succeed, Ms. Haq added, noting that both are important components of a global network of assets and expertise that can be drawn from when necessary to fulfil critical mission start-up and sustainment needs.

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