Security Council Asks Nations To Donate Quick-Response Peacekeeping Units
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The Security Council adopted plans Thursday to bolster its peacekeeping role in the post-Cold War world, asking nations to keep military units ready for quick deployment to hot spots.
In a unanimously adopted statement, the 15 council members also asked nations to loan military and civilian experts to the U.N.’s peacekeeping offices to help plan future operations.
During the 40 years of the Cold War, the Security Council was deadlocked by veto threats and rarely could agree to take aggressive collective action during international emergencies.
Only since 1987, when the five council members with veto power put Cold War divisions behind them, has the council been able to move quickly and effectively on issues crucial to the dominant Western powers.
The Security Council held a summit-level meeting Jan. 30, attended by President Bush, British Prime Minister John Major, French President Francois Mitterrand and other leaders, to ask the U.N. chief to recommend new approaches to collective security enforcement.
Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali responded in June with a report containing options ranging from letting regional political groups handle local problems to establishing a standing U.N. army.
The Security Council has never favored a standing U.N. army, one of the proposals written into the original 1945 U.N. Charter.
Thursday’s action endorsed some less controversial options.
The Security Council ″encourages″ member states to inform the U.N. chief of units they could provide on short notice. In theory, this would allow the U.N. chief to rush medical, logistical or infantry battalion units to hot spots within days.
Currently, U.N. peacekeeping officials must formally ask nations for troops and approve a budget, delaying the deployment of substantial units for months.
At the January meeting, Mitterrand offered military units for the ready- response peacekeeping units.
In his General Assembly speech in September, President Bush offered to train foreign peacekeepers in the United States and said U.S. officers would receive expanded courses in peacekeeping.
However, U.S. Defense Department spokesman Pete Williams said it was unlikely that Bush would designate any American units for quick response.
Washington traditionally provides transport planes for U.N. operations and other logistical support.
For years, Canada and the Nordic countries have kept units ready for quick deployment to peacekeeping forces under an informal understanding with the United Nations.
Canada keeps an infantry battalion of 700-800 soldiers on standby for U.N. use along with logistics and support staff, a total of well over 1,000 personnel.
Sweden keeps 3,000 troops in reserve for the United Nations, and Finland has a standby infantry battalion that was used six months ago in Yugoslavia and in Namibia during elections.
Last year and again earlier this year, the secretary-general asked all governments if they could provide units for emergencies, and about 50 have indicated willingness to participate, a U.N. peacekeeping official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
More than 60 nations already provide help to U.N. peacekeeping forces.
The council asked that countries loan military staff officers and civilian experts to the U.N. peacekeeping departments to assist in planning, and that a new peacekeeping operations center be established.
Until the mid-1980s, U.N. peacekeepers generally were limited to separating two warring forces that had agreed to a cease-fire. Recent missions involve peacekeepers in broader political issues. In Cambodia, for example, the United Nations can supervise key government departments.
Twelve of 26 U.N. peacekeeping forces approved since 1948 have been created since the 1988 cease-fire in the Iran-Iraq War, boosting the number of peacekeepers in the field from some 11,000 last year to about 50,000 now, largely due to huge missions in Cambodia and the former Yugoslav republics.
Since last year, the annual cost of U.N. peacekeeping has more than doubled to about $2.6 billion.
The General Assembly is expected to approve a $50 million peacekeeping start-up fund later this year so the initial stages of new peacekeeping missions can be funded without delay.