Uniting Our Strengths
for Peace, Partnerships and People

Statement by José Ramos-Horta
At the Asia-Pacific Seminar On Peace-Keeping
Complex Strategies for Peacekeeping: 
Enhancing Capabilities and Effective Responses of UN Peace Operations,
Hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
Jakarta, 27-28th July 2015


As always it is a real pleasure to be back in Jakarta, an opportunity I seize to revisit many good friends here.I thank you Excellency Madame Minister Retno Marsudi for the invitation extended to me to take part in this timely and important symposium soon after my colleagues and I handed over to the esteemed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the Report of the High Level Independent Panel on UN Peace Operations – Uniting Our Strengths for Peace, Partnerships and People.  The title reflects the essence and spirit in which it was developed and hopefully the way its recommendations will be implemented.

The Report is a product of a real, genuine collective effort – Panel, Member States and regional partners sharing experiences, knowledge and wisdom.It is also a result of the ideas and expertise of many hardworking, committed, talented colleagues of the various UN departments and entities, particularly the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations, Political Affairs, and Field Support.

Some of the best among them are here with us and I am pleased to note the presence of an old friend, Dr. ATUL KHARE, USG and Head of Dep’t of Field Support. Dr. Khare and I worked very closely during the difficult period of 2006 and 2008 when he was the SRSG in Timor-Leste; during that period he showed the combined qualities of a true UN leader, wisdom and compassion. This is what I believe are sine quo non attributes of a true and successful leader.Our friends and partners within civil society helped us ground our thinking and continually reminded us of the need to be relevant to the needs of the people that peace operations are deployed to serve and protect. They have taken us back to where it begins in the Charter: “We, the People”.

The Report is dedicated to a true hero; and the hero of the Report is not a famous or an infamous “freedom fighter” carrying a “Kalashnikov”. My hero is a South Sudanese 3-year old girl; her name is Nyakhat Pal.
Nyakhat is one of a family of many extremely poor people, their chronic extreme poverty exacerbated by an insane war that shattered the dreams and homes of all just two years after the euphoric independence celebration.
Her father is blind. Deprived of food the girl decided to help the family and set out on foot in search of food at a distant UNICEF camp; Nyakhat walked for four hours leading her blind father until they reached their destination. Registered, interviewed and supplied with enough food and basic supplements, they walked back.
Nyakhat’s story continues to melt my heart and shames her country’s leaders responsible for this insane war. But Nyakhat’s story is also a story both of UN’s indispensability and of the limits of its power.
The international community as a whole failed in South Sudan; it failed in preventing the outbreak of the war; it failed in inducing the parties to end the war. But in the midst of this tragedy and of failures, the UN and its Agencies are there and their presence has saved countless lives by providing physical protection and shelter to many and for feeding the hungry.
Often we too harshly judge the UN and the Member States who are doing their hardest to resolve an extremely difficult conflict in a remote and vast land area. Peace-keepers, police, civilian staff, UNVs, NGOs, international and locals, are doing their best in saving lives in extremely volatile and dangerous environments.
Hence, completely devoid of arrogance and with profound humility, we offer our recommendations in Uniting Our Strengths for Peace, Partnerships and People with the sole desire of contributing to a better world.
Having served the Secretary-General for 18 months as his Special Representative to the West African country of Guinea-Bissau, (2013-2014), Mr. Ban Ki-moon honoured soon after me with an even more challenging mission, to chair the High Level Panel.
I hope my colleagues and I have not defrauded the expectations of our esteemed Secretary-General and of the countless people, in Government and out, who committed many hours of their own time providing us with very valuable information and advice.
Over the course of nearly eight months, we held intensive consultations and numerous meetings with stakeholders across four continents, including many of you here.  We listened to hundreds of counterparts and received over 80 written submissions.We discussed the grave challenges facing peace operations and we recalled how in 1948 the first peacekeeping mission and the first high profile mediator were deployed as an innovative effort.

Nearly seventy years later, UN peace operations are now central to the Organization’s peace and security efforts.

We thought long and hard about the 120,000 uniformed and civilian personnel serving under the blue flag across 39 missions, 80% of whom are deployed to hardship locations, and the tasks they are called to carry out.


The Panel had broad terms of reference encompassing the review of both Peacekeeping Operations and Special Political Missions, in addition to the Good Offices of the Secretary-General and mediation initiatives of his special envoys and representatives.We looked at the operating environment both at Headquarters and the field.

We listened carefully to your views and concerns and we heard your call to reform not only the system’s instruments but also the mindset required to deliver them.

At the outset, it must be stated that durable and genuine peace is not achieved nor sustained by military and technical engagements alone, but rather through political solutions.

The issue of use of force was the most difficult for the Panel.  At times, we might even say, often, the use of force is unavoidable, particularly when the international community is confronted with the the moral imperative to protect civilian population and to prevent and stop genocide.
It is never too much to remind ourselves of the utter failure of the international community in intervening timely and forcefully stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. How we failed to act then when genocide was under way right under the eyes and in the midst of a UN peace-keeping force continues to perplex me.
The 1994 inaction was a shameful failure of leadership at UN Secretariat and in the SC Chambers. There was an exception; one small country, New Zealand, then in the SC, showed moral and political courage and spoke out; and it did it’s very best to waken the conscience of fellow SC members. To no avail.
The small post-card country, New Zealand, is back in the SC; will it be more seriously listened to by fellow SC members when they debate the catastrophes unfolding in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Palestine, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali, DRCongo, Afghanistan?
Excepting circumstances that clearly oblige the international community to act timely and forcefully with all means available, we believe that politics should be at the heart of UN engagement in conflict prevention and resolution, mediation and post conflict stages.
However, in practice, conflicts enter the agenda of the Security Council only when they have become far too acute, with little attention to prevention and with political efforts severely hampered by insufficient resources.
Operationally, peace missions are increasingly deployed in volatile and dangerous settings, creating extreme dangers for personnel and limiting their range of action, especially in light of violent extremisms and terrorism and attacks against Blue Helmets.The principles of PKOs are increasingly tested, leading some to question their relevance. Long standing missions endure without prospects for political processes while the system is stretched with new missions that have more ambitious mandates that are not met with matching resources or capabilities.


The Panel calls for change through four essential shifts.

First, to re-establish the primacy of politics. Peace operations were originally conceived to keep warring parties apart and monitor ceasefires to enable a political solution.  In recent years, some peace operations have been used as military tools, increasingly deployed in the absence of a peace process, a cease-fire, and sometimes even with offensive mandates. The Panel is convinced that peace operations should always deploy as part of a wider political process in which the United Nations plays the lead or a leading role.

Second, to make peace operations a more flexible tool, better tailored to the local situation. We should stop differentiating between peacekeeping missions with a military component and political missions. They are all peace operations and each should be tailored to the needs on the ground. Sequenced and prioritized mandates will allow these operations to develop over time instead of trying to do everything at once and failing.

Third, to strengthen partnerships. The United Nations must craft a collective vision for a future global and regional architecture to maintain international peace and security in the face of increasingly challenging crises. A number of regional organizations have become very active in prevention and mediation and some, particularly in Africa, have also become highly operational.

Given that Africa is a key continent for UN peace operations, with ten out of the 16 UN peacekeeping operations and approximately 80% of the annual peacekeeping budget, the UN-AU relationship should be strengthened, including through the interaction between the UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council.

The United Nations also needs to look the partnerships within, so that the UN System can bring its development, human rights and peace and security efforts more closely together.

Fourth, to become more field-focused and people-centered. This entails improved support from Headquarters to enable field operations to be tailored to each context and deliver more effectively.

There must be an awakening of UN Headquarters to the distinct and important needs of field missions. And there must be a renewed resolve amongst peace operations personnel to serve and protect the people.

Excellencies, allow me to outline some of the key recommendations that fall under these four shifts:

Conflict prevention should be brought back to the core of what the United Nations does. The Security Council has a key role to play in this and must engage earlier, bringing its great political influence to bear before an evolving situation deteriorates.

The Secretary-General too must be scrupulous in bringing to the attention of the Security Council any threat to international peace and security.

The Panel proposes that the Secretary-General convene a periodic international forum on prevention to bring together governments, regional organizations, civil society and the global business community.

The Panel also proposes to build on the good experience of the Secretariat’s regional offices and open additional ones, including the North Africa and West Asia region.

On protection of civilians, the past failures in Rwanda and Srebrenica continue to cast a shadow of shame. The Organization must spare no effort to protect those who it is mandated to protect and every peacekeeper – military, police and civilian – must pass this test.

The Secretariat must present to the Security Council a frank and clear assessment of the options backed up by clear resource requirements.

Where resources and capabilities do not match the mandate, the Secretariat should advise the Council of the need to adjust the mandate.

Troop and police contributors should ensure that all personnel deployed are trained, equipped and commanded to deliver.

Troop and police contributors should be engaged early on so that only those willing to serve under the applicable rules actually deploy and expectations of performance should be clear and clearly communicated to them.

Recognizing the courageous and effective PoC work of unarmed civilians, including the humanitarian community and national and international NGOs, peace operations should work more closely with local communities and these NGOs to build up a protective environment.

In order for UN peacekeeping to react more quickly, we are calling for a UN rapid deployment capability and a stronger network of bridging forces from regions.

For peace operations to be more relevant, we recommend to strengthen the entire analysis, strategy and planning process through the establishment, drawing from existing resources, of a small team reporting directly to the Secretary-General.

We recommend the Council to use sequenced and prioritized mandates as a regular practice, including a two-stage mandating process requiring the Secretary-General to return to the Security Council with proposals for prioritized mission tasks within an initial six month period. This approach would reduce mission budgets and ensure that missions are tailored to meet ground realities.

The lack of effective dialogue through so-called “triangular consultations” between the Security Council, troop and police contributors and the Secretariat has generated frustration and impacted mandate implementation.

The Security Council and Secretariat should establish inclusive and meaningful consultations with troop and police contributors to ensure unity of effort and a common commitment to the mandate.

Recognizing the efforts of the African Union in support of the Security Council in maintaining international peace and security, we propose a case-by-case basis use of United Nations-assessed contributions to provide complementary support to Security Council-authorized African Union peace operations, including the costs associated with deployed uniformed personnel.

Such complementary financial support would have mandatory financial reporting and would have to comply with UN standards, including on human rights and conduct and discipline.

We have integrated women, peace and security throughout our thinking and propose that gender expertise be located across all relevant functional mission components.

In addition, we propose that UN peace operations have full access to UN Women’s support, together with Secretariat support already provided.

The fact that sexual exploitation and abuse cases continue to surface shows that some UN personnel are still causing harm to those they are sent to serve and protect. This undermines the work of peace operations and damages the reputation of UN personnel and troop and police contributors, the vast majority of whom perform their duties with utmost professionalism and discipline.

It is critical to the enterprise of peace operations as well as the credibility of the Organization as a whole that Member States do more to combat and stamp out sexual exploitation and abuse.

Member States must immediately conduct investigations and prosecutions into credible allegations of misconduct, most especially sexual violence involving rape and abuse of minors, and be seen to do so.

It is essential that Member States keep the Secretariat promptly informed as to the status of investigations and any disciplinary action taken.

Given the grave and ongoing challenges facing progress in this area, the Panel has recommended that the Secretary-General include in his reporting information on disciplinary actions taken, by contributing country, noting any failure to report.

We also propose that Member States support the creation by the Secretary-General of an effective and adequately resourced victim assistance programme, to support individual victims and children born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse.

And we have also called for the Secretariat to develop standard transparent approaches to deal with troop and police personnel contributions from countries whose human rights record and performance present challenges.

Furthermore, governments whose forces are listed in the annual reports of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict and on Conflict Related Sexual Violence should be barred from contributing troops to UN missions until de-listed.Excellencies,

Regarding field support, it is clear that the current administrative system does not meet the needs for effective and efficient field operations.We call upon the Secretary-General to empower the Department of Field Support (DFS) with the full delegated authorities required to support the efficient administration of field-focused policies and procedures and to expedite service delivery and recruitment.

The Department of Management should provide a strategic quality assurance framework and oversight of performance.

The Secretary-General should also develop specific human resources and other administrative procedures for field missions to facilitate more rapid deployment and tailored management of civilian staff.

Reemphasizing the need to reestablish the primacy of politics, we note how special political missions often struggle to deliver mandates due to limited resources and backstopping support from Headquarters as well as insufficient start-up funding from commitment authority resources.

We therefore recommend that the ACABQ proposals set forth in 2011 be adopted as soon as possible, providing SPMs with predictable funding.

After careful consideration, it is the Panel’s view that the current Headquarters configuration is hampering the effective assessment, design and conduct of UN peace operations and the work in support of international peace and security.

The present departmental configuration gives rise to, or exacerbates, significant problems affecting peace operations and does not lend itself to the integration of all peace operations of the United Nations.

Given our strong view that we need to integrate all peace operations, we propose that the Secretary-General develops options to restructure the Secretariat peace and security architecture, including DPA, DPKO, DFS and PBSO.

This is to ensure all peace operations have:

– political strategies;
– context-driven realistic solutions based on high quality integrated assessment, analysis and planning;
– regional dimensions of conflict addressed systematically and in close cooperation with relevant regional organizations;
– and strengthened unity of effort and integration.We believe this will strengthen leadership and management and will help remove compartmentalized mindsets at Headquarters, for a stronger and more effective field-oriented support to UN peace operations.

The Secretary-General should consider the appointment of a Deputy Secretary-General responsible for peace and security to oversee and manage the changed structures and be accountable to deliver on them.

Such a restructuring would likely require either a single political lead department or entity, or two regional political departments, in both cases drawing on the operational and support entities for uniformed and civilian specialist advice and support of a separate department/entity.

These resources would be available in support of all types of peace operations. The proposal should be cost neutral.

A related proposal should be developed for a single “peace operations account” to finance all peace operations and related backstopping activities.Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased with the feed-back so far from Member States; it seems that the Report and Recommendations, a truly collective endeavor of the Panel Members and the many stake-holders who devoted time and energy in contributing orally or in writing, has met the expectations of almost everyone.

I chaired a Panel of 17 Members, all highly qualified women and men from all regions of the world, with very diverse cultural and life experiences; while the very composition of the Panel and the the very ambitious mandate entrusted on us were daunting at first, we did produce a Report, without dissention and compromise, a Report grounded on hard analysis and inspired only by our total commitment to contribute towards making the UN a better Organization in the service of peace in the world.


The Republic of Indonesia and a number of ASEAN Member States, namely, Malaysia, Thailand and The Philippines, have a long and impressive record in UN Peace Operations; they have a well-trained and disciplinned defence and police forces; adequate land and air-borne capabilities as well as logistics and other field requirements, vital in ensuring that forces deployed far afield have the tools needed to effectively deliver what is expected of them.

The South Asia region stands out in Peace Operations with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal counted among the world’s most active TCCs/PCCs spanned over many years. Increasingly these countries are investing significantly in improving troop performance, in gaining experience and acquiring modern tools necessary for effective discharge of their tasks.

China stands out as the only UNSC P5 country with a significant engagement with the UN in peace-keeping, now deploying a large number of highly trained and disciplined troop and police forces, backed up by adequate resources, including modern engineering and medical facilities. I believe we will see in the years to come an even  greater role by China in partnering with the UN in Peace Operations.
Japan, though inhibited by its own Constitution in deploying troops into war zones, is nevertheless very committed to engage further with the UN in peace operations.  In this regard, Prime Minister Abe is securing Diet and public support to free Japan from some legal obstacles to allow Japan to have a much greater posture in support of UN peace-operations.
As ASEAN develops closer economic integration and is united in contributing more to world peace, it does make every sense to have an ASEAN approach, harnessing human and material resources available in the group.An ASEAN integrated approach, similar to the African Union-led missions across the Continent, in partnership with the United Nations, would further project ASEAN’s credibility and influence across the world.

Similarly, apart from and/or in parallel with ASEAN’s participation in UN Peace Operations, and consistent with a very salient chapter in our Report, I see the importance and relevance of ASEAN’s contribution in preventing conflicts, mediating end of wars and in building durable peace.

The ASEAN region comprises very diverse peoples, cultures and religions, who are at different stages of development and at different levels and quality of democratic practice; some, namely Indonesia, have rich experiences of transitions and very positive transformations.

While within ASEAN there are Member States still struggling to consolidate peace and a genuine national reconciliation, social and political stability, the overall outlook is impressive.

Hence it is realistic and desirable that ASEAN countries invest and commit more in sharing these positve experiences with other countries and regions of the world, particularly, in the vital areas of prevention of conflicts, mediating and negotiating peaceful ends of wars and in building long-lasting peace and equitable, sustainable development.

I pray to God the Almighty and the Merciful to continue to inspire and guide the Nations and Leaders of the region on the path of reconciliation, equitable and sustainable prosperity for all.

Jakarta, 27th July 2015.José Ramos-Horta