Side-event: Statement by Ambassador Berger on the future of peacekeeping

Feb 20, 2013

(Statement as delivered by Ambassador Berger at a side-event to launch "Peace Operations 2025 - on the future of peacekeeping")

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

Peacekeeping has - since the first observer mission UNTSO in 1948 - developed into the flagship activity of the United Nations. Being designed in the aftermath and under the fresh impression of the atrocities of the World War II, the main purpose of the UN Charter was to address threats to world peace and security caused by armed conflicts between sovereign states – meaning, to keep the peace.

However, since then peacekeeping has undergone, as we know, a number of substantial changes. This applies to both, the threats being posed to international peace and security and the way these threats are being addressed through the UN.

Challenges to peace and security have become far more diverse and multidimensional than most actors within the UN system or other relevant institutions would have thought not long ago. One example was the discussion of the Security Council under the Arria formula on climate change and conflict, organized by Pakistan and the United Kingdom on the 15th of February, where a World Bank report on a world with 4 degrees increase was presented.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to speak at the launch of “Peace Operations 2025” which attempts to think about the peacekeeping world in the future. Although one might argue that within the next twelve years, nothing fundamental is going to change, we have seen shifts of paradigms within far shorter periods of time. We are therefore grateful for ZiF’s endeavour and the book it resulted in.

First of all, I would like to commend the German Center for International Peace Operations (ZiF) for managing a balancing act: On the one hand, “Peace Operations 2025” is a state of the art academic study. It’s a more scientific than politic approach, which has the very refreshing effect - particularly here at the United Nations - that its way of thinking is different from what we are used to in the world of international politics and diplomacy.

On the other hand, there is more to this book, with its inspirational design and the vivid presentation of the different scenarios it aims at readers of all specifications, ages and nationalities. It wipes off the dust of our usual diplomatic and political discussions and provides us with a new and stimulating view on the issue.

As you will see ZIF has taken into account not only political factors but – and that makes this study so interesting- it takes also into account key factors like economic, environmental, sociological and technology developments. It draws from an expertise that is as broad as it is deep. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, dear colleagues,

We are all familiar with the current challenges faced by the UN in order to adapt to some of the more recent developments in the peacekeeping world. This concerns issues like new means of coordination and cooperation with partners like regional organisations, the use of modern technology as well as a review and reassessment of its own structures.

“Peace Operations 2025” presents a set of additional challenges and the four possible future scenarios described therein are surely a valuable contribution to the discussion between UN and Member States.

You will judge how likely these scenarios are, some might become reality one day, whilst others will remain possibilities or even nightmares, that hopefully never translate into reality. But one thing is clear: The peacekeeping system will face new challenges in a rapidly changing world and the UN will have to adapt to them in order to fulfil the mandates.

In order to live up to these challenges, peacekeeping has to create and maintain structural and operational flexibility.

This call for flexibility is not new. But flexibility has many foes: It is expensive. It demands constant training. It means adapting to new situations. It is often difficult to reflect flexibility goals in formalized planning procedures. Political dynamics or the lack thereof, slow-moving parts within or outside the system and decision making processes which focus more on hierarchy than on the best possible outcome do also narrow the scope of flexibility within the peacekeeping procedures.


Let me conclude with a brief remark with regard to the present and probably future shortcomings of the UN peacekeeping system: As friends of UN peacekeeping we do not deny that it is far from being perfect. Nevertheless, we have to bear in mind that most countries that make the effort for international peace and contribute troops to peace operations are still in the phase of development themselves, while many industrialised countries face serious economic constraints.

We should all strive for a more inclusive and regionally balanced effort – when it comes to troop contributions as well as financial and contributions of assets. The German minister of defence, Lothar de Maiziere, said recently, that the current system, where the overwhelming troop contribution countries come from the developing world, and the financial contribution is mainly shouldered by western countries is not sustainable.

We all have an interest in keeping UN peacekeeping alive and active: The United Nations are the most legitimate voice of the international community. They are the best guarantor for peace and the fundamental principles laid down in its Charter. As long as we all adhere to these universal principles, we must continue to strengthen the UN and its peacekeeping capacities.

I thank you."

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