UN Peacekeeping Faces Large Challenges: An Interview with Alain Le Roy, the former Head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations
The United Nations has set out to do much in the area of peacekeeping: It has sought to greatly reduce the number of abuse-cases reported among “Blue-helmets” and increase the participation of women in UN-Police force by 20 percent. Alain Le Roy, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations explains this in an interview in issue 6/2011 of VEREINTE NATIONEN.
Many current and potential challenges for UN peacekeeping were observed in the missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan, which include the complex task of protecting civilians, enforcing the zero-tolerance policy for sexual abuse and dealing with the notorious lack of personnel and equipment. Within the context of financial crisis and an unwillingness for states to provide troops, Le Roy is trying to “do more with less.”
Other articles address the renovation of the UN headquarters near New York’s East River, the new UN women’s organization “UN Women,” as well as a discussion of the legacy of the late UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld on the 50th anniversary of his death. A speech by Jan Eliasson, the former President of the UN General Assembly, added to the focus on Hammarskjöld as well.
Torture Exists in 90 Percent of States
In 90 percent of states in the world torture is a widespread practice used in order to obtain confessions. Furthermore, the conditions of detention centers are so disastrous that it could be said a global crisis in prisons exists. This is the shocking assessment of Manfred Nowak in his article “The Office of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture: An Assessment after Six Years” for the special issue of VEREINTE NATIONEN concerning “The UN and Human Rights.” He served as the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and carried out numerous investigations, inspected prisons and conducted interviews with prisoners.
Other articles concerning the UN and Human Rights were written by Rainer Huhle, Claudia Mahler, Heiner Bielefeldt, Theodor Rathgeber, Wolfgang S. Heinz and Elisabeth Strohscheidt. These articles shine the spotlight on current problems regarding the protection of human rights.
The Security Council is Called Upon
Germany’s abstention of the Libya Resolution of the Security Council from March 2011 has led to strong debate in the media and academia. Many would see this step as a break with the traditional line of German UN policy and foreign policy. Was this abstention so extraordinary? This question is addressed by Manuel Fröhlich and Christian Langehenke in their article “Abstinence through Abstention: The German Voting Record in the UN Security Council” in issue 4/2011 of the journal VEREINTE NATIONEN.
If the Palestinians introduce their application for membership to the United Nations in September 2011, the Security Council is required to constructively address it. In issue 4/2011, Muriel Asseburg will take the standpoint that Germany should recognize the Palestinian state, and Hans Joachim-Heintze will take the view that the recognition of the Palestinian state doesn’t solve the broader problem. It is controversial as to whether a declaration of a State of Palestine and UN membership is the right way to move the stalled peace negotiations forward.
The Security Council needs to regard peacebuilding as more important than ever, says Peter Wittig in his article “Peacebuilding – Future Challenge for the UN,” which stands as an assessment of his time as Chairman of the Peacebuilding Commission.
The Council isn’t called upon to adopt a principle similar to those of women and peace and security, in the way that peace operations are explicitly committed to human rights. This resolution could eliminate the existing ambiguities, so says Michael Lysander Fremuth.
Humanitarian Aid in the Faces Large Challenges
The severe earthquake, the tsunami and the reactor accident – these three catastrophes which have haunted Japan in mid-March 2011, caused very complex humanitarian emergencies. At least 11,000 people lost their lives, while thousands remain missing and around 250,000 people were left homeless. 20 million people were affected by the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan and the earthquake in Haiti in the beginning of 2010 left the Caribbean state in chaos. The trend is significant: In the face of a rising world population, increasing environmental degradation, and vulnerability as a result of chronic poverty, more complex emergencies will emerge in the future. From around 150 catastrophes per year in the 1980’s, the number has risen to an average of 430 catastrophes per year over the last 10 years. Are international aid organizations and the United Nations equipped to confront these increasing challenges?
Issue 2/2011 of the journal VEREINTE NATIONEN deals with the problems and prospects of international humanitarian aid.
Dieter Reinhardt investigated the existing structures related to humanitarian aid in the United Nations. He comes to the conclusion that the financial and personnel related resources might not be sufficient, in addition to the fact that the aid is often not oriented to meet demands on the ground. The extent and amount of aid is strongly influenced by the geographic importance of a crisis, media presence and the fluctuations of the private donations market.
In order to place humanitarian aid as a firm foundation of the UN, the author suggests that dues from UN member states can finance humanitarian aid projects, or even peace operations. Valeria Amos, the acting Emergency Relief Coordinator, stated in an interview with VEREINTE NATIONEN that although there might be sources of reliable aid, in the face of stagnating budgets, general funds would have to be reduced.
One further problem confronting humanitarian relief projects is that more and more aid workers are being killed, wounded or kidnapped during operations. A new study commissioned by the Bureau for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), gives instructions for how the UN can achieve its goals of humanitarian relief in the midst of armed conflict. Hansjörg Strohmeyer, co-author of the study, explained in the interview that a lot of communication helps significantly, and is one of the best means to help those in need.
Not least, the UN would be given the task of coordinating emergency relief. An independent group of experts investigated, whether the UN practice of “cluster approach” was correct. Claudia Meier, member of the evaluation team, comes to the conclusion that the practice of identifying capable organizations has proven to be successful, but needs further improvement.