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Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations

Published August 21, 2000



Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations

The exective summary of this UN document, also known as the Brahimi Report (A/55/305–S/2000/809), states: "The Secretary-General has asked the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, composed of individuals experienced in various aspects of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building, to assess the shortcomings of the existing system and to make frank, specific and realistic recommendations for change. Our recommendations focus not only on politics and strategy but also and perhaps even more so on operational and organizational areas of need."

Executive Summary:

The United Nations was founded, in the words of its Charter, in order "to save succeeding
generations from the scourge of war." Meeting this challenge is the most important function of the Organization, and to a very significant degree it is the yardstick with which the Organization is judged by the peoples it exists to serve. Over the last decade, the United Nations has repeatedly failed to meet the challenge, and it can do no better today. Without renewed commitment on the part of Member States, significant institutional change and increased financial support, the United Nations will not be capable of executing the critical peacekeeping and peace-building tasks that the Member States assign to it in coming months and years. There are many tasks which United Nations peacekeeping forces should not be asked to undertake and many places they should not go. But when the United Nations does send its forces to uphold the peace, they must be prepared to confront the lingering forces of war and violence, with the ability and determination to defeat them.

The Secretary-General has asked the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, composed of
individuals experienced in various aspects of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and  peacebuilding, to assess the shortcomings of the existing system and to make frank, specific and realistic recommendations for change. Our recommendations focus not only on politics and strategy but also and perhaps even more so on operational and organizational areas of need. For preventive initiatives to succeed in reducing tension and averting conflict, the Secretary-General needs clear, strong and sustained political support from Member States. Furthermore, as the United Nations has bitterly and repeatedly discovered over the last decade, no amount of good intentions can substitute for the fundamental ability to project credible force if complex peacekeeping, in particular, is to succeed. But force alone cannot create peace; it can only create the space in which peace may be built. Moreover, the changes that the Panel recommends will have no lasting impact unless Member States summon the political will to support the United Nations politically, financially and operationally to enable the United Nations to be truly credible as a force for peace.

Each of the recommendations contained in the present report is designed to remedy a serious problem in strategic direction, decision-making, rapid deployment, operational planning and support, and the use of modern information technology. Key assessments and recommendations are highlighted below, largely in the order in which they appear in the body of the text (the numbers of the relevant paragraphs in the main text are provided in parentheses). In addition, a
summary of recommendations is contained in the annex.

Experience of the past
It should have come as no surprise to anyone that some of the missions of the past decade would be particularly hard to accomplish: they tended to deploy where conflict had not resulted in victory for any side, where a military stalemate or international pressure or both had brought fighting to a halt but at least some of the parties to the conflict were not seriously committed to ending the confrontation. United Nations operations thus did not deploy into post-conflict situations but tried to create them. In such complex operations, peacekeepers work to maintain a secure local environment while peacebuilders work to make that environment self-sustaining. Only such an environment offers a ready exit to peacekeeping forces, making peacekeepers and peacebuilders inseparable partners.

Implications for preventive action and peace-building: the need for strategy and support
The United Nations and its members face a pressing need to establish more effective strategies for conflict prevention, in both the long and short terms. In this context, the Panel endorses the recommendations of the Secretary-General with respect to conflict prevention contained in the Millennium Report (A/54/2000) and in his remarks before the Security Council’s second open meeting on conflict prevention in July 2000. It also encourages the Secretary-General’s more frequent use of fact-finding missions to areas of tension in support of short-term crisis-preventive action.

Furthermore, the Security Council and the General Assembly’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, conscious that the United Nations will continue to face the prospect of having to assist communities and nations in making the transition from war to peace, have each recognized and acknowledged the key role of peace-building in complex peace operations. This will require that the United Nations system address what has hitherto been a fundamental deficiency in the way it has conceived of, funded and implemented peace-building strategies and activities. Thus, the Panel recommends that the Executive Committee on Peace and Security (ECPS) present to the Secretary-General a plan to strengthen the permanent capacity of the United Nations to develop peace-building strategies and to implement programmes in support of those strategies.

Among the changes that the Panel supports are: a doctrinal shift in the use of civilian police and related rule of law elements in peace operations that emphasizes a team approach to upholding the rule of law and respect for human rights and helping communities coming out of a conflict to achieve national reconciliation; consolidation of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration programmes into the assessed budgets of complex peace operations in their first phase; flexibility for heads of United Nations peace operations to fund "quick impact projects" that make a real difference in the lives of people in the mission area; and better integration of electoral assistance into a broader strategy for the support of governance institutions.

Implications for peacekeeping: the need for robust doctrine and realistic mandates

The Panel concurs that consent of the local parties, impartiality and the use of force only in self defence should remain the bedrock principles of peacekeeping. Experience shows, however, that in the context of intra-State/transnational conflicts, consent may be manipulated in many ways. Impartiality for United Nations operations must therefore mean adherence to the principles of the  Charter: where one party to a peace agreement clearly and incontrovertibly is violating its terms, continued equal treatment of all parties by the United Nations can in the best case result in ineffectiveness and in the worst may amount to complicity with evil. No failure did more to damage the standing and credibility of United Nations peacekeeping in the 1990s than its reluctance to distinguish victim from aggressor.

In the past, the United Nations has often found itself unable to respond effectively to such challenges. It is a fundamental premise of the present report, however, that it must be able to do so. Once deployed, United Nations peacekeepers must be able to carry out their mandate professionally and successfully. This means that United Nations military units must be capable of defending themselves, other mission components and the mission’s mandate. Rules of engagement should be sufficiently robust and not force United Nations contingents to cede the initiative to their attackers.

This means, in turn, that the Secretariat must not apply best-case planning assumptions to situations where the local actors have historically exhibited worst-case behaviour. It means that
mandates should specify an operation’s authority to use force. It means bigger forces, better equipped and more costly but able to be a credible deterrent. In particular, United Nations forces for complex operations should be afforded the field intelligence and other capabilities needed to
mount an effective defence against violent challengers.

Moreover, United Nations peacekeepers — troops or police — who witness violence against civilians should be presumed to be authorized to stop it, within their means, in support of basic United Nations principles. However, operations given a broad and explicit mandate for civilian protection must be given the specific resources needed to carry out that mandate.

The Secretariat must tell the Security Council what it needs to know, not what it wants to hear, when recommending force and other resource levels for a new mission, and it must set those levels according to realistic scenarios that take into account likely challenges to implementation. Security Council mandates, in turn, should reflect the clarity that peacekeeping operations require for unity of effort when they deploy into potentially dangerous situations.

The current practice is for the Secretary-General to be given a Security Council resolution specifying troop levels on paper, not knowing whether he will be given the troops and other personnel that the mission needs to function effectively, or whether they will be properly equipped. The Panel is of the view that, once realistic mission requirements have been set and agreed to, the Council should leave its authorizing resolution in draft form until the Secretary-General confirms that he has received troop and other commitments from Member States sufficient to meet those requirements.

Member States that do commit formed military units to an operation should be invited to consult with the members of the Security Council during mandate formulation; such advice might usefully be institutionalized via the establishment of ad hoc subsidiary organs of the Council, as provided for in Article 29 of the Charter. Troop contributors should also be invited to attend Secretariat briefings of the Security Council pertaining to crises that affect the safety and security of mission personnel or to a change or reinterpretation of the mandate regarding the use of force.

New headquarters capacity for information management and strategic analysis

The Panel recommends that a new information-gathering and analysis entity be created to support the informational and analytical needs of the Secretary-General and the members of the Executive Committee on Peace and Security (ECPS). Without such capacity, the Secretariat will remain a reactive institution, unable to get ahead of daily events, and the ECPS will not be able to fulfil the role for which it was created.

The Panel’s proposed ECPS Information and Strategic Analysis Secretariat (EISAS) would create and maintain integrated databases on peace and security issues, distribute that knowledge efficiently within the United Nations system, generate policy analyses, formulate long-term strategies for ECPS and bring budding crises to the attention of the ECPS leadership. It could also propose and manage the agenda of ECPS itself, helping to transform it into the decisionmaking  body anticipated in the Secretary-General’s initial reforms.

The Panel proposes that EISAS be created by consolidating the existing Situation Centre of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) with a number of small, scattered policy planning offices, and adding a small team of military analysts, experts in international criminal networks and information systems specialists. EISAS should serve the needs of all members of ECPS.

Improved mission guidance and leadership

The Panel believes it is essential to assemble the leadership of a new mission as early as possible at United Nations Headquarters, to participate in shaping a mission’s concept of operations, support plan, budget, staffing and Headquarters mission guidance. To that end, the Panel recommends that the Secretary-General compile, in a systematic fashion and with input from Member States, a comprehensive list of potential special representatives of the Secretary-General (SRSGs), force commanders, civilian police commissioners, their potential deputies and potential heads of other components of a mission, representing a broad geographic and equitable gender distribution.

Rapid deployment standards and "on-call" expertise

The first 6 to 12 weeks following a ceasefire or peace accord are often the most critical ones for establishing both a stable peace and the credibility of a new operation. Opportunities lost during
that period are hard to regain.

The Panel recommends that the United Nations define "rapid and effective deployment capacity" as the ability to fully deploy traditional peacekeeping operations within 30 days of the adoption of a Security Council resolution establishing such an operation, and within 90 days in the case of complex peacekeeping operations.

The Panel recommends that the United Nations standby arrangements system (UNSAS) be developed further to include several coherent, multinational, brigade-size forces and the necessary enabling forces, created by Member States working in partnership, in order to better meet the need for the robust peacekeeping forces that the Panel has advocated. The Panel also recommends that the Secretariat send a team to confirm the readiness of each potential troop contributor to meet the requisite United Nations training and equipment requirements for peacekeeping operations, prior to deployment. Units that do not meet the requirements must not be deployed.

To support such rapid and effective deployment, the Panel recommends that a revolving "on-call list" of about 100 experienced, well qualified military officers, carefully vetted and accepted by DPKO, be created within UNSAS. Teams drawn from this list and available for duty on seven days’ notice would translate broad, strategic-level mission concepts developed at Headquarters into concrete operational and tactical plans in advance of the deployment of troop contingents, and would augment a core element from DPKO to serve as part of a mission start-up team. Parallel on-call lists of civilian police, international judicial experts, penal experts and human rights specialists must be available in sufficient numbers to strengthen rule of law institutions, as needed, and should also be part of UNSAS. Pre-trained teams could then be drawn from this list to precede the main body of civilian police and related specialists into a new mission area, facilitating the rapid and effective deployment of the law and order component into the mission.

The Panel also calls upon Member States to establish enhanced national "pools" of police officers and related experts, earmarked for deployment to United Nations peace operations, to help meet the high demand for civilian police and related criminal justice/rule of law expertise in peace operations dealing with intra-State conflict. The Panel also urges Member States to consider forming joint regional partnerships and programmes for the purpose of training members of the respective national pools to United Nations civilian police doctrine and standards.

The Secretariat should also address, on an urgent basis, the needs: to put in place a transparent and decentralized recruitment mechanism for civilian field personnel; to improve the retention of the civilian specialists that are needed in every complex peace operation; and to create standby arrangements for their rapid deployment.

Finally, the Panel recommends that the Secretariat radically alter the systems and procedures in place for peacekeeping procurement in order to facilitate rapid deployment. It recommends that responsibilities for peacekeeping budgeting and procurement be moved out of the Department of Management and placed in DPKO. The Panel proposes the creation of a new and distinct body of streamlined field procurement policies and procedures; increased delegation of procurement authority to the field; and greater flexibility for field missions in the management of their budgets.

The Panel also urges that the Secretary-General formulate and submit to the General Assembly, for its approval, a global logistics support strategy governing the stockpiling of equipment reserves and standing contracts with the private sector for common goods and services. In the interim, the Panel recommends that additional "start-up kits" of essential equipment be maintained at the United Nations Logistics Base (UNLB) in Brindisi, Italy.

The Panel also recommends that the Secretary-General be given authority, with the approval of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) to commit up to $50 million well in advance of the adoption of a Security Council resolution establishing a new operation once it becomes clear that an operation is likely to be established.

Enhance Headquarters capacity to plan and support peace operations

The Panel recommends that Headquarters support for peacekeeping be treated as a core activity of the United Nations, and as such the majority of its resource requirements should be funded through the regular budget of the Organization. DPKO and other offices that plan and support peacekeeping are currently primarily funded by the Support Account, which is renewed each year and funds only temporary posts. That approach to funding and staff seems to confuse the temporary nature of specific operations with the evident permanence of peacekeeping and other peace operations activities as core functions of the United Nations, which is obviously an untenable state of affairs.

The total cost of DPKO and related Headquarters support offices for peacekeeping does not exceed $50 million per annum, or roughly 2 per cent of total peacekeeping costs. Additional resources for those offices are urgently needed to ensure that more than $2 billion spent on peacekeeping in 2001 are well spent. The Panel therefore recommends that the Secretary- General submit a proposal to the General Assembly outlining the Organization’s requirements in full.

The Panel believes that a methodical management review of DPKO should be conducted but also believes that staff shortages in certain areas are plainly obvious. For example, it is clearly not enough to have 32 officers providing military planning and guidance to 27,000 troops in the field, nine civilian police staff to identify, vet and provide guidance for up to 8,600 police, and 15 political desk officers for 14 current operations and two new ones, or to allocate just 1.25 per cent of the  total costs of peacekeeping to Headquarters administrative and logistics support.

Establish Integrated Mission Task Forces for mission planning and support

The Panel recommends that Integrated Mission Task Forces (IMTFs) be created, with staff from throughout the United Nations system seconded to them, to plan new missions and help them reach full deployment, significantly enhancing the support that Headquarters provides to the field.

There is currently no integrated planning or support cell in the Secretariat that brings together those responsible for political analysis, military operations, civilian police, electoral assistance, human rights, development, humanitarian assistance, refugees and displaced persons, public information, logistics, finance and recruitment.

Structural adjustments are also required in other elements of DPKO, in particular to the Military and Civilian Police Division, which should be reorganized into two separate divisions, and the Field Administration and Logistics Division (FALD), which should be split into two divisions. The Lessons Learned Unit should be strengthened and moved into the DPKO Office of Operations. Public information planning and support at Headquarters also needs strengthening, as do elements in the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), particularly the electoral unit. Outside the Secretariat, the ability of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to plan and support the human rights components of peace operations needs to be reinforced.

Consideration should be given to allocating a third Assistant Secretary-General to DPKO and designating one of them as "Principal Assistant Secretary-General", functioning as the deputy to
the Under-Secretary-General.

Adapting peace operations to the information age

Modern, well utilized information technology (IT) is a key enabler of many of the above-mentioned objectives, but gaps in strategy, policy and practice impede its effective use. In particular, Headquarters lacks a sufficiently strong responsibility centre for user-level IT strategy and policy in peace operations. A senior official with such responsibility in the peace and security arena should be appointed and located within EISAS, with counterparts in the offices of the SRSG in every United Nations peace operation.

Headquarters and the field missions alike also need a substantive, global, Peace Operations Extranet (POE), through which missions would have access to, among other things, EISAS databases and analyses and lessons learned.

Challenges to implementation

The Panel believes that the above recommendations fall well within the bounds of what can be reasonably demanded of the Organization’s Member States. Implementing some of them will require additional resources for the Organization, but we do not mean to suggest that the best way to solve the problems of the United Nations is merely to throw additional resources at them. Indeed, no amount of money or resources can substitute for the significant changes that are urgently needed in the culture of the Organization.

The Panel calls on the Secretariat to heed the Secretary-General’s initiatives to reach out to the institutions of civil society; to constantly keep in mind that the United Nations they serve is the universal organization. People everywhere are fully entitled to consider that it is their organization, and as such to pass judgement on its activities and the people who serve in it.

Furthermore, wide disparities in staff quality exist and those in the system are the first to acknowledge it; better performers are given unreasonable workloads to compensate for those who are less capable. Unless the United Nations takes steps to become a true meritocracy, it will not be able to reverse the alarming trend of qualified personnel, the young among them in particular, leaving the Organization. Moreover, qualified people will have no incentive to join it.

Unless managers at all levels, beginning with the Secretary-General and his senior staff, seriously address this problem on a priority basis, reward excellence and remove incompetence, additional resources will be wasted and lasting reform will become impossible.

Member States also acknowledge that they need to reflect on their working culture and methods. It is incumbent upon Security Council members, for example, and the membership at large to breathe life into the words that they produce, as did, for instance, the Security Council delegation  that flew to Jakarta and Dili in the wake of the East Timor crisis in 1999, an example of effective Council action at its best: res, non verba.

We — the members of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations — call on the leaders of the world assembled at the Millennium Summit, as they renew their commitment to the ideals of the United Nations, to commit as well to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations to fully accomplish the mission which is, indeed, its very raison d’être: to help communities engulfed in strife and to maintain or restore peace.

While building consensus for the recommendations in the present report, we have also come to a shared vision of a United Nations, extending a strong helping hand to a community, country or region to avert conflict or to end violence. We see an SRSG ending a mission well accomplished, having given the people of a country the opportunity to do for themselves what they could not do before: to build and hold onto peace, to find reconciliation, to strengthen democracy, to secure human rights. We see, above all, a United Nations that has not only the will but also the ability to fulfil its great promise, and to justify the confidence and trust placed in it by the overwhelming majority of humankind.

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