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Lakhdar Brahimi, Chairman of UN investigations Panel
"We should create conditions for the UN to deploy rapidly"
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The BBC's Paul Anderson
"Post cold war peace making is a highly complicated, long-term effort"
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The BBC's Mark Devenport at the United Nations
"Peacekeepers should not remain neutral whe confronted by obvious agressors"
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Wednesday, 23 August, 2000, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Experts call for UN to take sides
UN troops in Sierra Leone
UN troops are now liable to face undisciplined rebels
A major study of United Nations peacekeeping operations has called for changes in the way they are organised and resourced.

No failure did more to damage the standing and credibility of United Nations peacekeeping that its reluctance to distinguish victims from aggressors

International panel of experts
The report, by an international panel of experts, criticised the insistence on neutrality in situations where one side resorted to violence.

It said this could render peacekeeping missions ineffective and, at worst, could make the UN complicit in evil.

The report was commissioned by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan after another report last year which criticised the UN's failure to prevent the genocide in Rwanda and the massacre of Muslim civilians at Srebrenica in Bosnia.

Speed of response

The panel of 10 experts, led by the former Algerian foreign minister, Lakhdar Brahimi, called for countries to take responsibility for training and equipping their own units.

Kofi Annan
Annan says prompt action is essential
In the past the panel said, some countries had provided the UN with soldiers without rifles or with rifles but no helmets.

The experts did not go as far as calling for a "rapid-reaction force" - a proposal put forward by a former UN secretary-general which has been criticised by the United States as a step towards a "UN army".

But the panel did suggest that groups of countries could together form brigade-sized forces of 5,000 troops for UN missions which could deploy more quickly and effectively to trouble spots.

The study argues that the first six to 12 weeks after a ceasefire or peace accord were the most critical for any operation.

Changing challenge

The panel also called for more and better equipped head office staff to plan the peacekeeping operations.

UN humiliations
Some 500 peacekeepers kidnapped by rebels in Sierra Leone in May
In 1994, the UN failed to prevent a genocide in Rwanda
Civil war has returned to Angola despite years of UN involvement
Thousands killed in the Bosnian UN Safe Area of Srebrenica in 1995
In Somalia in 1993, US marines were dragged into a series of gun battles with Somali militia - hundreds died
It said that at the moment, just 32 officers at UN headquarters were responsible for 27,000 UN troops from 20 countries scattered across the globe in 14 peacekeeping operations.

It said the need for reform had become even more urgent after the Sierra Leone operation, where UN peacekeepers were taken hostage earlier this year.

Correspondents say that while UN peacekeepers have traditionally been called on to monitor ceasefires between conventional armies, they are increasingly being sent to halt civil wars fought by undisciplined rebel factions.


The report concludes that the peoples of the world still judged the UN by how well it met its original post World War II mandate "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war".

It said that "over the past decade the UN has repeatedly failed to meet the challenge," and would face further failures without a major overhaul.

In a letter forwarding the report to the UN General Assembly and the Security Council, Mr Annan endorsed it as "frank yet fair".

World leaders are expected to consider it when they congregate at the UN for its millennium summit at the start of next month.

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See also:

23 Aug 00 | Americas
UN peacekeeping under review
15 Jun 00 | Americas
Holbrooke criticises UN peacekeeping
21 Jan 00 | Americas
US senator berates UN
11 Aug 00 | Africa
UN chief seeks Horn force boost
05 May 00 | Africa
UN failing in Africa
09 Jun 00 | From Our Own Correspondent
UN's credibility mission
15 Apr 00 | Africa
UN admits Rwanda genocide failure
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