[Dateline: New York | Author: DPKO]
Addressing the gathered officers on the last official day of the conference on Thursday, Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon, said that peacekeeping has evolved dramatically over the years, with the possibilities for preventing conflict and making peace expanding greatly while at the same time growing in complexity.
“At times, there is no peace to keep. At others, the consent of the belligerents is lacking,” said the Secretary-General. “As military officials, you know better than most that peacekeeping is about far more than achieving military objectives. It is about ensuring political stability and promoting democracy and human rights. It is about providing humanitarian assistance and laying the groundwork for sustainable development.”
The annual Heads of Military Components Conference, organized by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ (DPKO) Office of Military Affairs was held from 3-7 August at UN Headquarters. It brought together the top military officers of the UN’s peacekeeping missions, providing them with an opportunity to share experiences and challenges, not only with each other, but also with senior managers and staff from UN headquarters.
UN peacekeeping is now larger and wider in scale and complexity than ever before, with more than 120 countries currently contributing military and police personnel to 17 DPKO-directed and -supported peacekeeping missions, totaling approximately 115,000 men and women in the service for peace.
The Secretary-General’s remarks were the culmination of four days intensive discussions on peacekeeping, meetings with DPKO officers responsible for their missions, a meeting with the military and police advisers of the Permanent Missions to the UN and encounters with members of the UN press corps.
In addition, the heads of UN peacekeeping’s military components last Wednesday attended part of the Security Council’s discussion on peacekeeping operations.
Each year’s conference has a programme of work built around a set of thematic issues. This year’s conference centered on subjects such as robust peacekeeping and the New Horizon project.
Throughout the week, conference attendees heard from a series of senior DPKO officials, including Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support Susana Malcorra, and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy.
Other important topics that were discussed in-depth included the Joint Operation Centre/Joint Mission Analysis Centre; safety and security, which involved the attendance of officials from the Department of Safety and Security); women, peace and security, in relation to Security Council resolutions S/RES/1325 and S/RES/1820) and conduct and discipline.
The heads of the military components of the following peacekeeping missions attended the conference: MINURSO, MINURCAT, MONUC, UNDOF, UNFICYP, UNIFIL, UNMIK, UNMOGIP, UNOMIG, UNMIT, UNTSO, UNMIL, BINUB, MINUSTAH, UNMIS and UNAMID (See: Mission names and web sites).
For General Agwai, Force Commander of UNAMID and the Dean of the Head of the Military Components, the Conference was one of the last activities in his current post as he will hand over command of UNAMID's peacekeepers at the end of this month to Lieutenant-General Patrick Nyamvumba of Rwanda, who also attended the Conference in his role as UNAMID’s designated-Force Commander.