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Panel Discussions - Friday, June 19, 2009

Special Representatives Discuss Legitimacy, Impartiality, and Safety in UN Field Missions

On June 19th, IPI convened a full-day meeting of UN member states and Special Representatives of the Secretary-General (SRSGs), with the goal of sharing lessons learned from UN field missions. The dialogue featured Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and speakers drawn from the highest levels of the UN Secretariat and was held under the Chatham House Rule.
The Secretary-General delivered keynote remarks on the role and importance of SRSGs, describing them as “the vanguard of the United Nations.” Subsequent panel topics included legitimacy, impartiality, and safety on the ground; peacebuilding in the immediate aftermath of conflict; developing smart mandates in the Security Council; and implementing complex mandates while maintaining impartiality.

Read the full meeting note on this event.

Areas for improvement in UN missions, among member states, and at UN headquarters were identified in the meeting, including the need to:

  • distinguish between the concepts of “neutrality” and “impartiality,” and reinforce a perception of the UN’s impartiality among all stakeholders;
  • creatively overcome bureaucratic hurdles in securing the safety of mission staff and obtain more resources––political and financial––from member states;
  • put additional focus on the security needs of national staff, who are often overlooked;
  • work from the very outset of a peace operation to build national capacity, rather than as an exit strategy;
  • place greater emphasis on conflict prevention and early-warning systems, which would cost less than, and reduce the need for, peacekeeping operations;
  • create a forum for more informal and inclusive discussions among member states leading up to Security Council decisions; and
  • prioritize or suggest a sequencing for the plethora of tasks required of a peace operation when developing mandates in the Security Council.

 

Slide show: Image 1 of 9
Photos by Elliot Moscowitz
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen, and Adam Smith, IPI Senior Program Officer

 

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