UN: Outgoing UN peacekeeping chief praises reduced cost of operations

New York, US (PANA) - The outgoing UN Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Herve Ladsous, says UN peacekeeping is becoming more agile and capable and the cost for each peacekeeper has fell 16 per cent in recent years, dropping the entire budget of the blue helmets worldwide to around US$7.2 billion.

Ladsous who briefed UN reporters in New York on Friday, said: "It is a lot of money at face value, but it is 0.4 per cent of world military expenditure."

"No other army has done what the United Nations has done over the past six years. The price for UN peacekeeping operations is currently US$7.2 billion, down from US$8.2 billion in 2011 and we diminished the cost per peacekeeper by 16 per cent without any diminution in the level of equipment," he noted.

Comparing UN costs with the price tag for similar operations done by governments alone, Mr. Ladsous said the UN operation cost was one-quarter of such operations, stating that, "even as the costs have decreased, the agility and capacities of UN peacekeeping has strengthened."

"For example, the UN will shortly have a permanent capacity to deploy a vanguard brigade within 30 to 60 days, a very useful improvement over the current six to eight months to deploy a unit," the outgoing UN peacekeeping chief said.

Another example of progress cited by Mr. Ladsous is the work under way to create a framework policy on intelligence which will save lives and allow peacekeepers "to do a better job", adding that, "technological advances, such as surveillance drones, balloons and cameras, are helping to bring “peacekeeping into the 21st century."

"The geographic makeup of the peacekeepers is also changing, with an increased number of units from the so-called Global North, which incorporates countries from North America and Europe, as opposed to the Global South, which consists of South America, Asia and Africa.

"When I can in in 2011, 95 per cent of peacekeepers were from the Global South. Now we have more countries from the Global North, from Europe, the European Union, in Mali and in Central Africa," he stated.

According to him: "Another key aspect of change in peacekeeping is their ability to adapt to the situation in each country and in creating exit strategies, because missions are not eternal."

He also disclosed that three peacekeeping operations in Cote D’Ivoire, Haiti and Liberia are expected to close down this year.

Mr. Ladsous also noted that, despite the evolution of peacekeeping, UN operations are often hampered by ongoing challenges, which include deployments to countries where there is no political process.

"Peacekeeping is about political solutions. The visible part is the soldiers, the uniforms, the policemen, but the reality is that we’re there to serve a political solution and quite often, it was the case in Mali initially, it was the case in Central African Republic initially, there was no political solution in sight," he said.

The outgoing peacekeeping chief also said that, "the UN Security Council is not always as supportive as it should be in such circumstances, nor in instances where UN 'blue helmets' (peacekeepers) should be sent", noting that, "one of the greatest challenges, however, is managing expectations of UN member states, donor countries and other actors."

"The heart of the mandate is about protection of civilians. This is an extremely difficult issue. Yet we cannot have a peacekeeper behind every single citizen in the theatre," said Mr. Ladsous.

"While it is difficult to quantify, UN peacekeeping saves lives," he said, pointing to South Sudan, where he just visited with the incoming chief, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Mr. Ladsous said the UN saved at least 220,000 lives in South Sudan alone.

Among other issues discussed in his final press briefing was the recent sexual exploitation and abuse report, asymmetrical attacks on peacekeepers, and uncooperative Governments hosting peacekeeping operations.
-0-  PANA  AA  24March2017

24 march 2017 21:09:15

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