Security Council discusses exit strategies

On 12 February 2010, the members of the UN Security Council sat down for a day-long discussion on exit strategies for peace keeping missions. This discussion had been called by the French presidency, which had circulated a ‘concept paper’ outlining some of the issues two weeks before the meeting.

The French concept paper remarked that peace-keeping missions are now at a ‘all-time high’ with more than 96,000 men and women in uniform, costing member states about US$7.8bn annually. The paper stopped short of claiming that this was too expensive, but did refer to a need to ‘make the best possible use of available resources’ in this time of ‘global financial crisis’. According to the French, the present situation in peacekeeping is ‘far from ideal’. Amongst many other things, the paper pointed to ‘certain long-standing operations which have existed for almost 50 years without any significant progress in the peace process’.

The presidential statement that followed was relatively modest. The Council stressed, that ‘the overarching objective should be to achieve success through creating the conditions for sustainable peace on the ground, thereby allowing for reconfiguration or withdrawal of the United Nations peacekeeping mission’.

But it also pledged to improve its own performance by, for instance, ‘to include in peacekeeping mandates a desired outcome of the implementation of mandated tasks and a clear prioritization of tasks to achieve it ‘. It called for the use of strategic plans for peacekeeping missions, and emphasised the use of measurable objectives in all operations.

– Andreas Persbo, London