Annan outlines requirements for successful peacekeeping

“I do not think it coincidental that, in the case of the failures, either there was no peace to keep or peace agreements proved fragile because the underlying causes of conflict had not been resolved,” he said in a speech at the Magee campus of the University of Ulster.”We must know the limits of what is achievable by the United Nations,” Mr. Annan said, stressing that it is important “not to allow ourselves to be used as a fig leaf for lack of political will by the international community to deal effectively with an issue.”Success comes when there is a clear and achievable mandate, he said, citing the UN’s stewardship of East Timor and Namibia. The situation in Kosovo – marred by disagreement on means and goals – stands in contrast, he said. Another critical lesson is to “never neglect security,” said the Secretary-General. “Without security almost everything else is impossible: no effective government, no reconstruction, no return of refugees, no return to school, no elections.”He also cautioned against outsized expectations and stressed the need for a long-term commitment to peace, pointing out that nearly half of all accords collapse within five years. Efforts stall as interest flags, he said. “Political engagement and financial support are drawn down just when the process needs a second wind.”He called for all concerned – the Security Council, countries, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), warring parties and the citizens concerned – to “stay the course.”Warning against “the peril of trying to do things in the wrong order,” he said respect for the rule of law must precede elections, social stability should come before full economic liberalization, and the economy must be growing before the international community disengages. “It should be no surprise that in the poorest countries, like Haiti and Liberia, peace processes failed and conflicts lapsed back into violence.”The most important lesson of all – “for me personally, and for the United Nations as an organization – is that we must always be listening and looking out for new knowledge,” he declared.”Let us learn those lessons. And let us employ them in our future peace operations, as we work together to try to make the world a better and a safer place, for our own sakes and for our children.”After his speech, Mr. Annan took some questions from the audience, including one about whether the international community was now seeing a “clash of civilizations.” He responded by saying there was a need for dialogue with the Muslim world “to get across that Islam is not represented by the killers.”Over the weekend, the Secretary-General met Saturday with Prime Minister Bertie Ahern to discuss the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Afghanistan peace process, Iran’s nuclear programme, the plans for Iraqi elections, the crisis in Darfur, Sudan, Northern Ireland and HIV/AIDS.

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