European Union @ United Nations, Partnership in Action

EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

EU in NY

Learn more about academic programs and think-tank events, arts festivals and cultural activities.

European External Action ServiceEuropean Comission

< Back to previous page

EU Presidency Statement - Peacekeeping operations

Summary: November 8, 2000: Statement made by His Excellency, Jean-David Levitte, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations. Overall study of all aspects of peacekeeping operations (New York)

Mr. Chairman,

I should like to take the floor on behalf of the European Union, and also the Central and Eastern European countries associated with the European Union (Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia), the associated countries Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, and the EFTA countries members of the European Economic Area (Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland), which align themselves with this declaration, and on behalf of all the co-authors, to endorse this statement.]

I should like first of all to thank Mr. Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under?Secretary General, for his report.

The European Union would like to express the great interest, which it has consistently shown in the proceedings of the Special Committee on Peace-keeping Operations and in its recommendations. We particularly commend the part played in the conduct of our proceedings by the Chairman of the Special Committee, Mr. Arthur Mbanefo, Ambassador of Nigeria, and the Chairman of the Special Committee's working group, Ambassador Michel Duval of Canada. Once again this year the European Union has contributed actively to the Committee's discussions, and the report adopted last March marked an important stage in the overall examination of the issue of peace-keeping operations in the light of the significant developments over recent years, which have seen a rapid increase in the number and scale of UN peace?keeping operations.

The report submitted last August at the Secretary?General's request by the study group headed by Ambassador Brahimi represents a considerable contribution towards strengthening the United Nations in one of the tasks at the center of its mission, namely that of maintaining peace and international security.

The recommendations of the Special Committee on Peace-keeping Operations, which the General Assembly, in its Fourth Committee, endorsed last May, were reflected in a report, which the Secretary?General requested from a study group led by Ambassador Lakdar Brahimi. The study group examined in detail the possible reforms, made necessary in the light of recent experience, to the various activities of the United Nations categorized as "UN peace-keeping operations" which contribute to fulfillment of the key mission of the United Nations and its true raison d'être, that of assisting communities of human beings confronted with conflicts and preserving or restoring peace.

This report, which in particular draws inferences from the past and lessons of immediate topicality, such as from the situations in Sierra Leone, Kosovo or East Timor, was submitted to the Secretary?General last August and forwarded to the General Assembly and the Security Council. The Heads of State and Government included it in their discussions at the Millennium Summit. The Millennium Assembly decided, in particular, to increase the effectiveness of the United Nations Organization in maintaining peace and security by giving it the resources and tools it needed to improve its capability in the areas of conflict prevention, peaceful settlement of disputes, peace?keeping, peace consolidation and post?conflict reconstruction. The Heads of State and Government asked the General Assembly to give prompt consideration to the practical recommendations contained in the Brahimi report.

Both the Security Council, within its sphere of competence, and the Secretariat have examined these recommendations. The Security Council working group is to deliver its conclusions very shortly. For its part, the Secretariat submitted a plan on 21 October, which clarifies some arrangements and the possible timetable for implementing the recommendations of the Brahimi report.

The European Union welcomes the work that has thus been carried out at the Secretary?General's request in such a short time and with the genuine concern to arrive at proposals for practical solutions to the shortcomings and deficiencies experienced by the UN system in keeping the peace. It wants to take the matter further and give positive consideration to the recommendations in the Brahimi report and the implementation plan submitted by the Secretary-General. The European Union is also convinced that, as the Brahimi report highlights, the general lack of sufficient staff in the secretariat calls for urgent action on the part of the General Assembly to provide the Secretariat with adequate and suitable staff to enable it to carry out its mission.

Maintaining peace and international security, an objective in which the United Nations plays a leading role, requires resolute action on the part of all, the Security Council, the General Secretariat, the General Assembly and all the Member States.

The necessary reform of the system will therefore be a collective enterprise, and none of the essential aspects should be overlooked.

The European Union fully supports the efforts made to coordinate and promote continuity of the tasks to foster peace before, during and after peace-keeping activities in their strict sense, so as to ensure that the United Nations' investment in peace is not in vain. This continuum on which peacekeeping tasks are based thus ranges from conflict prevention to post-conflict consolidation of peace.

For its part, the European Union is seeking to contribute actively and effectively to conflict prevention and settlement. While underlining the prime role of the United Nations in maintaining peace and international security, the European Union is determined to continue to cooperate, on the basis of mutually supportive measures, with the United Nations, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and other international organizations in promoting stability, early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict reconstruction.

Last June in Santa Maria da Feira the European Council confirmed its determination to set up a common European security and defense policy capable of enhancing the European Union's external action by creating a military and civilian crisis management capability, while fully respecting the principles of the United Nations Charter.

Management of the civilian aspects of crises, particularly as regards the areas of civilian policing, strengthening the rule of law, transitional civilian administration and protection of civilians, was particularly developed with particular regard to civilian policing, by the commitment of the Member States of the European Union to provide 5 000 civilian policemen by the year 2003 for peace-keeping purposes, to which is added the rapid deployment target of being able to deploy 1 000 civilian policemen in less than 30 days.

The European Union intends to coordinate its activities closely with the United Nations Secretariat as well as with the OSCE, and particularly the REACT special team, and the Council of Europe.

The commitment of the European Union and of its Member States to United Nations peace-keeping no longer needs to be evidenced. It is manifest in the contribution in terms of troops, civilian policemen and military observers which the European Union is making to UN peace-keeping operations. The European Union also has several thousand men and women currently serving in operations mandated by the United Nations in the Balkans.

The European Union, via its Member States, contributes nearly 40% of the United Nations peace?keeping budget, and those contributions are paid in full and on time. The funding of peace?keeping operations is of basic importance. The European Union greatly regrets, and considers as particularly unacceptable, as it is prejudicial in particular to the troop-contributing countries which have to wait for the costs they have incurred on behalf of the United Nations to be reimbursed, that certain countries, unlike the overwhelming majority of Member States, do not pay their arrears or their debts to the Organization. This is a veritable breach of the principle of the collective responsibility of the Member States of the United Nations, particularly for peacekeeping. The Member States must unconditionally discharge their obligations under the Charter and pay their contributions in full and on time.

What the United Nations most needs for peace-keeping, besides the key issue of resources, is a reform of practices and procedures which must also be reflected in the structures within the Secretariat to remedy the shortcomings and inadequacies of the current system, as regards the preparation, planning, rapid deployment and conduct of peace-keeping operations. In the light of recent experience and the stringent inventory drawn up by both the Special Committee on Peace?keeping Operations and the Brahimi report, the European Union has identified the following priorities in particular:

The Security Council must issue clear, credible and feasible mandates for peace-keeping operations, a target which pre-supposes, among other measures, both qualitative and
quantitative improvement of consultations with the troop-contributing countries, as from the preparatory phase of a mission, and once the contributing countries have been identified by the Secretary?General.

The rules of engagement should also be better suited to the context of and mandates for missions. They are a decisive factor for the deterrent capability of missions and are intended to avoid the use of force rather than to encourage it.

Rapid deployment of peacekeeping operations calls for the combined action of the Security Council, the General Secretariat, the troop-contributing Member States and the General Assembly. In the Secretariat, reinforcement of the Logistics Division (FALD), civilian police and the military adviser would contribute significantly to this. The United Nations Stand-By Arrangements System should also be reinforced and made more operational, particularly by the integration of strategic transport capabilities and a system, to be developed jointly with the Member States, for a reserve list of military and civilian police officers trained for launching and planning new missions.

The framing of a general logistical support strategy and the reform of procurement procedures and expenditure management would also contribute decisively to the rapid deployment of peace?keeping operations.

The United Nations has a need of staff and well-trained and well-equipped troops. The General Secretariat should not deploy on the ground units, which would not comply with the minimum conditions set by the Memorandum of Understanding. The training unit in the Secretariat should be strengthened and cooperation in this area between Member States encouraged. The European Union, for example, is encouraging the enhancement of African peacekeeping capabilities, and it intends to continue and develop further its contribution to this endeavor.

These measures are without prejudice to the contributions expected from all the other Member States or to the prime role of the Security Council in maintaining peace and international security.

The European Union also considers it essential for ensuring efficiency in the conduct of peace?keeping operations that the structures in the Secretariat should be adapted to enable greater coordination of the planning and management of missions, for example by using special integrated mission teams, if need be.

Greater coordination in collating information inside or outside the United Nations system for refining the Secretariat's strategic analyses is also of great importance for better preparation of missions and the mandates for them.

Lastly, the effectiveness of peace-keeping missions also pre-supposes that the consolidation of peace, via rapid impact projects and the launching, at the earliest opportunity and as far upstream as possible of any peace-keeping operation, of programmes for disarming, demobilizing or reinserting former combatants, be fully integrated into those missions.

Tasks relating to human rights and humanitarian assistance should also be taken into consideration as from the planning phase for missions.

Finally, the use of information technology must be encouraged in order to step up coordination between the United Nations agencies and departments as well as between the Headquarters and missions on the ground.

The European Union is convinced of the need to learn the lessons of the past and to reinforce the unique tool available to the United Nations for ensuring peace. This is its only tool, and to leave it in neglect would be irresponsible. The European Union is aware of the inadequacy of any increase in the resources allocated to the Secretariat, even though this is an urgent necessity. The amounts involved are in any event totally incommensurate with those that the United Nations already commits elsewhere, and particularly for development, an area which also takes priority and which some would consider to be threatened by this sudden effort in favor of peace-keeping. May they be re-assured by the fact that peacekeeping will not deflect the sustained effort, including financial effort, required of the international community in favor of development. Peacekeeping, if it is more closely coordinated with the global approaches advocated, ranging from conflict prevention to the consolidation of peace, will be a useful complement to the development effort.

The ways of increasing the effectiveness of the system are well known. They are to a large extent described in the report before us requested by the Secretary?General on the basis of the Special Committee's conclusions. We must therefore wait no longer, but apply this report and issue the right directives and recommendations to that end in the Special Committee and in the General Assembly.

  • Ref: PRES00-284EN
  • EU source: EU Presidency
  • UN forum: First Committee (Disarmament and International Security)
  • Date: 8/11/2000

< Back to previous page

See also

European Union Member States