JOANNE MYERS: On behalf of the Carnegie Council, I would like to welcome our members and guests and to thank you for joining us this morning for our Worldview Breakfast program. Today Jean-Marie Guehenno, the Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, will be discussing "Challenges in UN Peacekeeping Operations."
In accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has as its mission to plan, prepare, manage, and direct UN peacekeeping. The end goal is to alleviate human suffering, to create conditions and build institutions for self-sustaining peace and security.
For the first forty-five years of the UN's existence, peacekeeping missions were a relatively simple affair; efforts were focused on supervising cease-fires between warring states. But since the end of the Cold War, the UN's focus has changed; its mission is no longer strictly confined to a traditional peacekeeping role in which military forces monitor cease-fires between conflicting states and use force only in self-defense. Today's peacekeepers have come to play a critical role in humanitarian emergencies around the world and are often thrust into the midst of civil wars. Frequently, they are called upon to protect civilian populations when they have been uprooted from their homes and are targets of abuse.
In these very changed circumstances, the UN has found its tradition of neutrality tested to the breaking point. While in theory peacekeeping and military intervention on humanitarian grounds is admirable, in practice it is difficult to attain, mainly because of the requisite military resources needed to achieve the desired goals.
When Secretary-General Annan appointed Jean-Marie Guehenno to be Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations four years ago, there was no question that he chose a person who could meet the challenges that were needed in these politically charged times. Our speaker is a person who has had wide experience in the field of diplomacy, defense, and international relations, as well as in administration and management. All of these skills are vitally needed to meet the demands of this most important position.
During his tenure, his office has been responsible for complex missions and has shown its ability to master difficult situations. Mr. Guehenno has spent almost two decades of his career in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France, most recently as Ambassador to the European Union. In addition, he served as Chairman of the Institut des Hautes Etudes de Defense Nationale.
Even before joining the UN Secretariat, Mr. Guehenno was involved in UN projects, as he was a member of the UN Commission that produced the "White Paper on Defense," and since 1999 he has been a member of the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters.
At a very trying moment of the UN, we are very fortunate to have Mr. Guehenno take the time out from his busy schedule to be with us and discuss what he views as the most pressing challenges in peacekeeping operations today. Please join me in giving a very warm welcome to Jean-Marie Guehenno.
JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO: Thank you. It's really a great pleasure to be here with you this morning. I recognize a number of friends. My wife complains that I always love to talk about peacekeeping, so sometimes she thinks I should change the topic of conversation, but this morning you picked that topic so I feel less guilty.
The demand on peacekeeping, as you just heard, has gone up and down. Peacekeeping was not in the Charter, and its death has been announced many times, but it's still there, and actually it is there at a moment of almost unprecedented growth.
In terms of numbers of troops, there were slightly more troops in the early 1990s. In terms of numbers of complex missions, we never had such a dramatic increase. No less than four new or expanded complex peacekeeping operations had to be organized or reorganized this year.
I am thinking of what we are doing in Cote d'Ivoire, in Burundi, in Haiti, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, all that in the space of a few months, while other missions haven't disappeared. They are still in Kosovo—and Sierra Leone which is now coming to an end—and many other places which have their own difficulties. That has meant that we have had to recruit massive numbers of troops and also civilian personnel. In a few months, we recruited more than 10,000 troops. There were 52,000 uniformed personnel in March and now we stand at approximately 63,000, and it is growing. The civilian personnel now deployed around the world in seventeen peacekeeping operations has now reached the 11,000 level; it is going up also.
So what can one make of that surge? In a way, it could be worrying that peacekeepers are needed in so many places. In another way, it means that if we get it right, a number of conflicts are coming to an end. You don't insert peacekeepers in the midst of a war—you shouldn't. You do insert peacekeepers when there is a peace agreement, when there is the beginning of peace to keep. And actually the statistics do show that the number of conflicts is indeed diminishing. And so the real worry in that surge is, how are we going to meet such high demands on the capacities of the UN?
There is no more ambiguous word than "the UN." The UN is not some abstract organization living on Mars. It's you. The UN is no more than the sum of its Member States. Maybe we try to combine that sum so that it's more effective—and we should—but at the end of the day the resources of the UN are the resources of its Member States, the troops of its Member States, the civilian personnel trained by the Member States. And so if the Member States are not prepared to shoulder that huge challenge, we are in trouble. And when I say "we," it's also again all of us; it's the organization as the most visible face of the international community; but it is the international community at large which is in trouble if it has a problem that it recognizes a big issue but that it is not prepared to address.
One last word on the situation on where we stand. I personally don't think this is a passing phenomenon. Of course, one can make all sorts of predictions on the future of the international system. But when you look at the combination of a very powerful force for development and growth around the world, which are very positive forces but which are at the same time somewhat destabilizing—stagnation is not destabilizing; change is—what you see is the combination of the awareness of change and the perception of stagnation in parts of many countries, that creates great tensions, social tensions, in many places.
So the possibility of what we now call failed states is not something that is an aberration. Unfortunately, I think there are anumber of countries around the world which do feel the strains of what's been happening in the world. First they had the decade immediately after their independence where the sense of nationalism and pride could carry them forward. But that has now been eroded and their leaders are judged on what they have delivered to their people, and they haven't always delivered what was expected. And se we are facing with this situation a new wave of uncertainty.
And when you add to that the end of the Cold War—the fact that there is no longer that magnet for good in a way, because it stabilized the world, although it was bad for a lot of people because it froze the situation in a strategic confrontation that didn't give much of a say in many countries—when that is removed, that means everything is more in flux.
So it's a big challenge for us and we need to address it. The way we look at it, it's a challenge in resources. How do you mobilize 60,000-70,000 troops? Over the years, the way it has been done has changed considerably. At the time of Dag Hammarskjold, the idea was no P5 ["permanent-5" UN Security Council member countries]involved in peacekeeping. It started with Suez, of course, with two P5 , and also the way out of that crisis was certainly to get the P5 out of that business.
In the 1990s, you saw a very significant involvement of the P5 in Yugoslavia, and that didn't go well—not because the P5 was there, but because the strategy was probably not the right one. But the armies of those countries drew some lessons from that experience. I personally believe they drew some of the wrong lessons.
But the fact is that at the moment the bulk of our troops come from developing countries. There are a few European countries that contribute to challenging missions; we're proud to have the Irish and Swedes providing a quick reaction force in Liberia, and that's very helpful for the whole mission. But the bulk of our troops are from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, some African countries—very few troops from industrialized countries.
We were glad that when we were in Timor that Australia and New Zealand did such a fine job, and that really helped establish the mission in a decisive way, because what we see is that spreading the burden is important operationally because there are some capacities that are not so easy to find. It's also important politically because the troops that you deploy on the ground are not like some security company that you would hire; they are also a political signal.
The troublemakers—and, unfortunately, we have quite a lot of them—look at the UN flag, they also look at the national flag, and it's a combination of the two flags that really sends the best political message. When they see that that combination represents a wide array of countries around the world, our political hand is considerably strengthened, because the message then is clearly sent that the international community at large does care, and we need that when we need to press the issue.
Resources, mobilizing the world, deploying quickly, and in a timely manner—these are huge challenges to us. We see that if we dribble into a mission, then we project an image of weakness, and there is nothing more difficult than to recover from an initial perception of weakness. So we are looking for new solutions. We see that if we just repeat the solutions of the past, it's not going to work. So we are looking at solutions that we have now to sell to the Member States.
One of them is the idea of having strategic reserves—that is, troops that are not deployed in any particular crisis area, but that would be earmarked for rapid deployment with the commitment of the troop-committing countries and given some compensation for the fact that they are kept under a high state of readiness.
We are looking for an adjustment of the mechanism for police. We see that in all our peacekeeping operations the police force is a critical element, because if you don't have law and order you're not going to have it really moving from a situation of pure force to a situation of law and order. So the police is a critical element in that transition.
But the police force is much harder to recruit than the military, especially in those times where every country has its concerns about terrorism and also a deterioration in law and order. So getting the right police force and getting it quickly is difficult. Therefore we are thinking of assembling a sort of surge capacity of specialized police that could be moved in quickly to a crisis situation.
The challenge and the response that we develop do not stop there. For a long time, peacekeeping was essentially about blue helmets and establishing a measure of security. Peacekeeping is really lowering the temperature so that we can cure the patient. But if you want to cure the patient I think there is now an understanding that in the type of crises that we face you need a much broader array of responses than the pure security one. Yes, disarming the combatants, reforming the security sector, making sure that when somebody sees a policeman or a soldier in the dark, at night, they will not see them as a threat but as a reassurance—all that is essential to a successful peacekeeping strategy.
But you have to complement that with a building of capacities for the state so that it will be able to deliver the basics of administration to its people. It must have a functioning justice system, so that if people are arrested they are locked up in a jail that looks like a jail, not like a torture chamber. You have to have a state that has the capacity to collect taxes, so that the police officers that you have trained will actually behave like real police officers, instead of stopping cars at the end of the month to get paid. If you don't fix the fiscal situation of the state, you are bound to be a very temporary fix, and the risk of failure down the road once you pull out, can be high. So you do need much more integrated, much more multidimensional peacekeeping missions than we had in the past.
Peacekeeping and peace-building are not two separate phases; they are part and parcel of the same effort at stabilization in a post-conflict situation. That means drawing in resources way beyond the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. We are not going to reinvent the role and develop all those capacities ourselves. There are some resources in the UN system that need to be mobilized, There are some resources in Member States, there are some Member States in other multinational organizations, that need to be brought together in a coherent manner. The Bretton Woods institutions, the UNDP, the European Union, major donor states committed to development—all these have to be harmonized in a cohesive manner so that the international community, as it tries to weigh in, does it in an effective way.
That raises all sorts of new questions, and maybe for my conclusion I will dwell on a few of those questions, because frankly, I don't think that we have all the answers. I think that the more you look at peacekeeping, the more you see the challenges. I think there has been a lot of experience accumulated over fifty years, so we have some of the answers, but maybe our greatest strength is that we have more questions after fifty years. Let me mention some of them.
First, be very careful when you apply peacekeeping to a situation. The idea that "okay, you have a crisis, send the peacekeepers," is a dangerous proposition. That was at the root of some of the tragedies of the 1990s. Penicillin is good at curing some diseases; it doesn't cure all diseases. That doesn't mean it's a bad medication; it just means that it has to be used in an intelligent way. So you have to analyze the situation and see if there is the basis for a peacekeeping effort.
Essentially the basis consists of a critical mass in the country that is committed to a peace agreement. If there is no such peace agreement, then the idea that a third party is going to make peace for the people of a country who don't want peace, unless you apply overwhelming force—and that's no longer peacekeeping—the risk of failure is quite high. You do need some viable peace agreement.
Secondly, yes you need a peace to keep, as the sentence goes, but you have to be aware that in those situations there is a whole gray area between peace and war, and that's the description of most of our situations today. Where you have a peace agreement, you have maybe the key players in that peace agreement more or less—and when I say more or less, the beginning of the gray area shows its ugly head—more or less committed to that peace agreement.
But then you have spoilers. Now, are you going to have a peace process hostage to one of the spoilers and the millions spent by the international community destroyed or wasted because you don't have the capacity to nip in the bud the spoiling strategy of one of the troublemakers? That's where we believe robust peacekeeping is in order.
Now, robust peacekeeping is a very ambiguous expression which does need to be clarified. What I mean by robust peacekeeping is that we want to be in a position that is sufficiently strong to be able to dominate the situation if any spoiler comes our way. That doesn't mean that we put ourselves in the position where we are going to wage war with one of the key players in a peace agreement—that would be a different situation, and I don't think the UN is equipped for that, and that's the kind of situation where we have to say, "No, this is not a peacekeeping situation."
But, short of that, there are many situations where if you can have decisive action, then you can nip a problem in the bud. That's why in more and more of our missions we have military capabilities that would have surprised observers of peacekeeping ten or fifteen years ago. Having attack helicopters, having special forces, that kind of thing, was not in the inventory of peacekeeping operations ten or fifteen years ago.
Now we have them in Sierra Leone. The interesting point in Sierra Leone is that most of the time they just had to fly around the area, rather than shoot. They were a deterrent. We have them in eastern DRC[Democratic Republic of Congo]. They are there because we are not yet strong enough. We had to use them more because the stronger the deterrent, the less you will have to use it. So they have been used in eastern DRC. We have them in Liberia. We have them in a number of places. We had them in Timor at the critical time and they played a very useful role.
A third lesson we've learned over the last fifty years involves the balance between getting involved in protecting local ownership. There was a lot of talk in the old days that because the world was a messy place, wouldn't it be so much better just to sort of re-colonize it. And you heard that the re-colonization by nations wouldn't go down well, but the UN blue flag could do it wonderfully.
My own experience is that one has to be very careful there. Yes, the UN flag may bring more acceptance, more legitimacy; but if there is one dominant theme around the world as I travel to many different places, it is that people want to run their own affairs. UN or not, when you are a foreigner, when you are an outsider, you have to be very careful in the way you project your authority.
And so we have different models. We did run Timor as a trusteeship. We are still running Kosovo along those same lines. We did it differently in Afghanistan. Each situation is specific.
I think it worked well in Timor because it was a very clearly time-bound operation. We arrived there as liberators, and Sergio De Mello was very careful to immediately go beyond actually what he had to do in giving a voice to the Timorese leadership. All that made it possible to run the place and yet to be very well accepted. But I remember conversations with him. He saw the clock ticking. He knew that he had to press to transfer power to Timor and reestablish the full sovereignty of Timor sooner rather than later; otherwise the liberators would be perceived as colonizers and the mood could change rather quickly.
In Kosovo, we have difficulties precisely because that exit strategy, which needs to be agreed by the Security Council, is not yet clear. So the open-ended nature of our presence there, although now we are trying to send signals that there is a light—hopefully shining—at the end of that tunnel is very important. But it's clear that in Kosovo we are beginning to overstay our welcome, and the violence in March was an illustration of that.
I think in Afghanistan, where the role of the UN was to facilitate the emergence of a political consensus among the Afghans, that probably was the right strategy. At the time, there were people advocating a Timor-like trusteeship for Afghanistan. Personally, I think the way of the future is much more in being in a supporting role rather than running the show for the people of the country that we have come to help.
But obviously, saying that is easier than implementing it, because at the same time that you gain influence and acceptability you lose in control and leverage, and so there are tradeoffs, and you have to work the right tradeoffs. There are not two similar situations, so it's a fine art. There is not a "one size fits all" answer to peacekeeping. I think that is another lesson that we can draw.
Finally, there are two more lessons that I would focus on. One is that the range of efforts that are needed means that the world really needs to develop broad partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations, between the United Nations and nations, so that the nations themselves gear up for what is going to be a continuing activity in the future. Just as nations used to have a draft to bring troops to defend their borders, now in the way people manage their careers, in the way governments manage their civil servants, they have to factor in the idea that maybe as part of the defense of the country some civil servants will be seconded for awhile in a conflict situation because that is part and parcel of our security.
If we don't pay attention to those states that are on the brink of collapse or that have collapsed, it will come back to haunt us, as we saw tragically in Afghanistan. So I think there there is a need for a much more intense partnership between the United Nations and its key partners, including also in the private sector and in the NGO world, to mobilize resources.
A last word on legitimacy. As I said with the idea of trusteeship, and very strong involvement, I don't think there is any magic answer to legitimacy. I think that the United Nations, because it is not perceived to have a particular agenda, is more acceptable in many post-conflict situations than most organizations or nations. At the same time, nobody should oversell the legitimacy of the United Nations because we are still foreigners intervening in a place where people are dealing with their own future.
I think the key to our successful operations over the years has been a measure of humility, because if you come with all the answers, those answers might not be the answers that the people you have come to help would want to be their answers; and if they are not their answers, as good as our answers may be, they won't be sustained. Thank you.
JOANNE MYERS: Well, penicillin may not be the drug that cures all diseases, but if we need a remedy for peacekeeping, you may be the doctor to prescribe it. With that said, I'd like to open the floor to questions.
Questions and Answers
QUESTION: Let me just preface my remarks by saying what a privilege I think it is for the international community to have someone like you running one of the critical areas of the UN, what a good thing I think it is for the international community generally to have as senior staff at the UN, including the Secretary General, people of such outstanding quality. I think we should all remember that today especially.
I wondered if you'd like to say something about one of the proposals in the High Level Panel's report, the proposal for a Peacebuilding Commission. This whole field of peacebuilding is laid out there as an area for the UN to focus on, in particular addressing states under stress. I think it's a very important proposal because this is an area which has not had a natural home in the UN. It has been done on a sort of an ad hoc basis by the Security Council. It needs, I think, the specialized attention of something like the proposed Peacebuilding Commission.
But the proposal is not very fleshed out, and I wonder if you'd like to give us the benefit of your thoughts about how it should work, and also what its impact will be on DRC in particular.
JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO: Well, I read the report obviously and I saw that proposal. I'm not going really to flesh it out because I think that requires a lot of discussions, including with the key players, how they see the role of the Bretton Woods institutions in such a structure.
What I can say is that there is an obvious need for the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions and the key players, donors and so on, to join forces to develop a cohesive strategy in a post-conflict situation. I can give a concrete example of that when I see the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. You want the IMF for instance, that has a responsibility on fiscal issues. I mentioned earlier the need for a state to collect taxes, control the revenue chain, control the spending chain. That's something that the IMF knows how to do. That's a field of expertise that they have. Of course they also have the leverage, combined with the World Bank, on the kind of financial facilities that they give or do not give. So in those situations where you have to apply a combination of political-economic pressures, political-economic remedies, looking just at one half of the house is really schizophrenic.
Sometimes we have seen the international community having one political strategy amply debated in the Security Council and that really not having much impact on the action actually in the same countries in a different forum. Sometimes there is a disconnect, and that is wrong. So I think any formula that will help bring those who have the economic levers to bear in a coherent, integrated manner in a crisis situation is absolutely necessary.
At the moment it is done in an informal manner. We all have discussions in the World Bank and the IMF, but it is very much ad hoc and there is not much systematic approach. I think the Council itself—and that is maybe also in a way our fault—when it reads the reports of the Secretary General, it is focused very much on the politics of the situation. Yes, we report also on humanitarian issues and some development issues, but there is not a comprehensive picture of what the effort of the international community should be, what are the tools, and how they should be used.
So I think this idea of bringing together the major stakeholders in the management of the post-crisis situation is certainly important. How it needs to be fleshed out, fine-tuned, I think very much depends on the actors themselves.
QUESTION: Picking up on a couple of items that you mentioned, in theater there is the maxim that "you don't show the knife unless you intend to use it." In peacekeeping showing the guns unless you have the power and the intent to use them also presents a problem; otherwise, the question here is how effective can you be in controlling the crisis.
So building on that, before you get to that peace agreement or the desire to have the peace, which you mentioned is a necessary first stage, then who moves in to create that condition about the ability to have the peace? And then what happens when the opposing sides decide they don't want any more peace, or at least one of them doesn't? Then what does the UN do?
JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO: Well, that's what we have seen in Somalia for a number of years after the withdrawal of the international community. So in such situations, you have a kind of a low-intensity good offices effort, trying to see if there is any kind of common ground between parties which do not seem to have some common ground. But if there is no decisive engagement of the international community, then nothing much happens.
If I may make a more general point here, I think that one of the problems that we face today is that in all our peacekeeping missions, as I said, and I would say beyond peacekeeping missions in all crisis situations, yes you can deploy troops, yes you can say a few good words on a situation, but if there is not a strong engagement of the key players, a quantum of political engagement by the key players, then the risk of not making progress is much higher.
We all see the importance of improvement in Iraq for instance, and there's a lot of attention given, rightly so, to Iraq, but that also means that a number of other crises, which have maybe strategically less importance but which from a human standpoint do also matter, do get less attention. And I'm not talking just about the United States; I think that all the key players in the Council inevitably get their attention focused on the crisis of the day. Sometimes I say that most of our peacekeeping missions are the "second-page crises," but they should get all the attention they deserve, because without that kind of political engagement, the assets we deploy on the ground are not used to their full capacity.
QUESTION: Would you comment on the U.S. Ambassador to the UN's parting observations on the refusal of the UN to address the situation in the Sudan? It would seem that the UN is able to address minor peacekeeping questions but is not able to handle major problems like Iraq, Rwanda, Sudan, and even in Kosovo somebody else handled it before the UN came in.
JEAN-MARIE GUEHENNO: I think, again, the most ambiguous word is "the UN," because the UN, as I said, has no standing army, so at the end of the day it's what the Security Council is ready or not ready to do. As I have observed the Security Council in the past four years, I think that there are always two threats on the Security Council: one is its division, because when you have a board, if I may say, which is deeply divided, then it is very difficult to reach a forceful decision; and the other risk is indifference.
Personally, I have seen more—because, as I say, I deal more with what I would call the "second-tier crises," which for me are the first-tier crises in terms of their human toll, but in terms of politics they are often the second-tier crises—I have seen more of the dangers of indifference than division.
Now, on Sudan, I think this is a case in point where the issue is that Sudan Darfur is, as you know, quite a big area. Sudan itself is the biggest country in Africa; it's even bigger than the Democratic Republic of Congo. We have detailed plans for the north-south negotiation for Sudan, so if the Naivasha negotiation on north-south goes forward, I think we are prepared, and we have actually lined up a number of military resources to deal with that peacekeeping situation if an agreement is forthcoming.
We are still missing—we have to do some troop-raising here—we still are missing transport assets, which is actually very revealing. It's a specialized asset that will be critical for Sudan, and that exists more in developed armies than in developing countries' armies. For that we can't just have commercial assets because you need to be able to go when the situation is bad.
So Sudan is typically a case where the resources of the international community are indeed challenged. The decision of the Council has been to turn to the African Union, which itself is gravely challenged by what needs to be done when it comes to Darfur.
I personally believe that the international community, while giving its full support to the African Union in Darfur, must remain, and the Security Council must remain fully engaged and face up to its responsibilities if the situation continues to deteriorate in Sudan, because there we would be in a situation that would not really be a peacekeeping situation, where you need the kind of military resources that only very few countries have. So then it's really the Security COuncil's political decision how far they want to go.
In a way, Rwanda was a case like that. General Dallaire was crying for more troops, and the Security Council decided actually to reduce them. He was presented with several options, and the decision was to reduce the troops, not to augment them.
I think we have made some progress since then. When there was a crisis in Bunia northeast Congo, the Security Council could well have decided to pull out altogether. The Security Council authorized a multinational force, which gave us time to get stronger in Ituri, and many thousands of deaths were avoided that way, maybe tens of thousands.
So I think the international community is slowly learning some of the lessons of the major tragedies of the past, but it is still faced with a big dilemma, and we as peacekeepers are faced with a big dilemma: In a crisis situation, do we decide to call the attention of the world to the crisis and bring assets to that crisis, with the risk that we won't have enough assets and that it could turn into a UN debacle which would damage the credibility of peacekeeping for future years, because at every step of the road we are not sure what the final support will be? Or do we look the other way, thinking that maybe the storm will blow away, it won't be a disaster, and it will sort of peter out without our involvement, but with the fear that if that prediction is wrong, then we will have on our conscience maybe a genocide, or less than a genocide but major horrors, that could have been avoided with an involvement? That's the key dilemma of peacekeeping, and we face it every day. Thank you.
JOANNE MYERS: Thank you very much.