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The BBC's Barnaby Mason
"The resolution does nothing to resolve the dispute over when forcible intervention in a civil war isjustified"
 real 28k

Sir Brian Urquhart, former head of UN peacekeeping
"Funding is a very serious problem"
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Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK
UN promises to boost peacekeeping
Nigerian UN troops in Sierra Leone
The UN is struggling to thwart the Sierra Leone rebels
The UN Security Council has voted to strengthen its peacekeeping abilities after the Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the organisation faced what he called "a crisis of credibility".


Nowhere is your commitment more urgently needed than in the continent of Africa

UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan
But the resolution, passed at a special open meeting of the Security Council contains few specific pledges and correspondents say the debate highlighted divisions between members.

At the main summit session on Thursday several African leaders accused the world's rich nations of neglecting and exploiting their continent for decades, thereby condemning millions of people to a lifetime of misery and suffering.

UN humiliations
1993 - US marines dragged into gun battles with Somali militia - hundreds die
1994 - UN fails to prevent genocide in Rwanda
1995 - thousands killed in Bosnian UN Safe Area of Srebrenica
2000 - about 500 peacekeepers kidnapped by rebels in Sierra Leone
The UN peacekeeping department has taken on heavy responsibilities in Africa, but has struggled to carry them out effectively because of poorly trained and equipped troops.

Mr Annan highlighted the plight of Africa, scene of many of the UN's greatest failures.

"Nowhere is your commitment more urgently needed than in the continent of Africa, where millions are suffering daily from the ravages of war," he said.

Divisions

Though the resolution was passed unanimously, BBC diplomatic correspondent Barnaby Mason says the debate which preceded it revealed the continuing disagreement about when the international community should intervene in internal conflicts.

The Chinese President, Jiang Zemin condemned what he called the wilful use of force to interfere in the domestic affairs of others in the name of humanitarianism.


The speed and yardstick for collective action cannot be determined purely by strategic political considerations

Jamaican Prime Minister Percival Patterson
The resolution proposes a complete overhaul of the peacekeeping department.

It calls for a bigger professional military staff at UN headquarters so that troops can deploy rapidly and take action in clear cases of aggression.

But several other countries share the view expressed by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Percival Patterson.

"Rightful concerns over sovereignty cannot allow us to turn a blind eye to the forces of evil.

"But the speed and yardstick for collective action cannot be determined purely by strategic political considerations," he said.

Broader agenda

US President Bill Clinton backed measures to make UN peacekeeping more effective, but went on to widen the debate.

President Clinton addressing the security council
President Clinton says UN seucurity operations should be strengthened and broadened
He said the UN should follow Washington's example and broaden its definition of what constitutes a security threat to include global killers like Aids.

"War kills massively, crosses borders, destabilises whole regions.

"Today we face other problems that kill massively, cross borders and destabilise whole regions," he said.

Political will

The conflicts in Sierra Leone, Somalia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have put great strain on the UN's resources and raised serious questions about its peacekeeping role.

In Sierra Leone, 500 UN peacekeepers were taken hostage in May by rebels of the Revolutionary United Front - a debacle that led to calls for UN troops to have better training and a more robust mandate for tackling internal conflicts.

It is not the first time that world leaders have called for UN peacekeeping to be beefed up, but the Western powers are extremely reluctant to commit their forces to operations in Africa.

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See also:

07 Sep 00 | Americas
Largest UN force but still no peace
07 Sep 00 | Americas
Africa: UN's 'strategic ghetto'
07 Sep 00 | Americas
Castro disarms summit with joke
07 Sep 00 | South Asia
Musharraf seeks UN Kashmir role
07 Sep 00 | Americas
No Mid-East advance at UN summit
05 May 00 | Africa
UN failing in Africa
23 Aug 00 | Americas
UN peacekeeping record
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