Ban Ki-moon: “We Can’t Address Today’s Challenges With Yesterday’s Mindset”

“We can’t address today’s challenges with yesterday’s mindset,” United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, while calling for continued member state support for peace operations at an IPI co-organized conference on the 2015 UN peace & security reviews.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General reminded that change did not come overnight and that the sustained support and ownership of all recommendations by member states was required to move from rhetoric to the coordinated action needed to deal with the logistical, financial, and most importantly, strategic challenges UN peace operations are facing today. He urged for greater investments in order to improve responses and increase the UN’s efficiency.

Mogens Lykketoft, President of the UN General Assembly, also gave opening remarks at the conference, held at the United Nations headquarters April 11. Representatives of more than 60 UN member states were in attendance, along with UN personnel and members of civil society. The discussion was convened in support of the May 10–11 General Assembly High-Level Thematic Debate on Peace and Security.

The intent of the conference, “UN Peace Operations Review: Taking Stock, Leveraging Opportunities, and Charting the Way Forward,” was to take stock of the status of implementation of the recommendations put forward by June 2015 report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) to date, keeping in mind that this year marks the final year for the current Secretary-General’s term. It gave member states and other relevant stakeholders a forum to reflect on the present proceedings of the relevant UN mechanisms, including the C34 and the Peacebuilding Commission, and identify areas for further intensive efforts to be made in the remainder of the year 2016, aiming to build and sustain the political momentum to champion the strengthening of peace operations during and beyond 2016.

As highlighted by the conclusions in the IPI meeting brief that was published the following day, the discussion highlighted that the completion of the three major reviews, namely the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO), the review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture, and the review of the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, had brought forward many recommendations and gathered much attention. However, translating ideas into action still requires the championship by member states on a number of areas, particularly on issues related to gender, enhanced field support, and regional partnerships. Further, this collective commitment should focus on the concepts of sustaining peace and of prevention, and base itself of both formal and informal discussions, in particular with local and regional entities and actors.

Panelists and participants also stressed the need to embrace the suggested changes in a holistic manner, and to tackle long-lasting issues impeding the flexibility of the world organization – including in the area of funding and that of the sequencing of mandates. Finally, the need to sustain commitment during the transition to the next secretary-general and to build on the momentum of the three reviews, were deemed critical to operationalize the changes foreseen.

The event was co-organized with the Permanent Missions of Ethiopia, Norway, and the Republic of Korea to the UN.

Download the IPI Meeting Brief
Download the conference agenda