Dhaka Preparatory Meeting: Smart Pledges

Meeting Summary

Dhaka, 1-2 October 2017

The Preparatory Meeting on Smart Pledges was hosted by the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh in Dhaka with participants from 25 member states and representatives from the United Nations. This was the final meeting prior to the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial to be held on 14-15 November 2017 in Vancouver, Canada. The objective of the meeting was to prepare deliverables and pledges related to Smart Pledges for the Vancouver Ministerial. This meeting served as a platform to take stock of the progress of pledges as well as to showcase new smart pledges, highlight new pledges to close outstanding capability gaps and share best practices on the rotation of key enablers. It also provided opportunities to take account of progress on increased representation of women in national militaries and international deployments, generate new gender pledges by Member States and share ways as to how these targets could be met in the coming years.

The meeting was organized into three main sessions. Each session was conducted with presentations by experts followed by open discussions to encourage views and comments from the participants. Break-out group discussions followed the sessions to provide opportunities for participants to contribute and comment on specific issues that were presented during the main sessions. Finally, Member States were provided with an opportunity to discuss their potential pledges, which will be officially announced in Vancouver.

Session 1A: Key discussion points and recommendations on Smart Pledges and the UN’s current and emerging capability requirements

  • Partnerships are very important for organizing contingents for peacekeeping operations. As Member States continue to increase their pledges to UN peacekeeping, the importance of cooperation among Member States will also increase.
  • Smart Pledges are pledges in partnership either bilaterally, between Member States, or by triangular partnership, among two or more Member States and the UN, to meet the UN’s current and emerging uniformed capability gaps.
  • The critical areas for Smart Pledges are quick reaction capabilities, highly qualified enabler units and training capacity building.
  • The major challenges that currently exist with Smart Pledges include transforming the Smart Pledges into a capability in the mission area, matching the equipment provided through partnership with the personnel operating on the ground, appropriate certification of the partnership arrangement, and maintenance of the equipment including reimbursement arrangements.
  • Partnerships and cooperation among the UN and Member States have been going on for quite some time. It was identified that, through partnership, it will be easier for Member States to contribute to UN peacekeeping operations. However, this concept needs to be further demonstrated for some Member States and potential equipment providers.
  • A suggestion was made for further study on Smart Pledges and partnership arrangements to provide a comprehensive analysis and take into account the advantages and disadvantages. After a deliberate study, the UN Secretariat should generate clear policies and mechanisms on Smart Pledges.

Session 1B: Experiences and lessons learned from the Multinational Rotation Contribution of C-130s

  • The rotation of C-130s for the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) initiated by Norway has been a successful example of a rotation of key enablers in partnership with other countries.
  • This success has been possible due to the outstanding cooperation between partnering countries in many areas including providing financial support and flexibility in planning.
  • The rotation has been cost-effective and has provided predictability and stability in terms of planning deployments and exits for the UN and involved T/PCCs.
  • However, there are challenges and areas to improve: an infrastructure component by a lead nation or the UN is required, planning and coordination must be done early, and longer rotations – not less than six months are preferred.
  • In addition, pre-deployment visits by T/PCCs are vital, the MOU/LOA negotiation process has to be mainstreamed, and participants should be able to negotiate with the UN. The UN should also play a greater role as a “match maker”.
  • Norway suggested that an evaluation of the cost effectiveness of the C-130 rotation be conducted by comparing this concept with a one-nation contribution and commercial alternatives.
  • Bangladesh also shared its experience of a successful rotation of C-130 aircraft, a key enabler deployed to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The lessons learned by Bangladesh include the importance of innovative maintenance to keep aircrafts operational for mission service, and the necessity of risk management.

Session 1C: Partnerships for the deployment of critical enablers

  • The best way for the UN and Member States to reduce risks and make deployments to UN peacekeeping more effective is to work together in partnership. There has been much improvement by the UN and Member States in this area.
  • However, more coordination between T/PCCs and the UN is required to ensure proper resources are available for peacekeepers in the field at the right place and time. Therefore, better planning, more pledges, stronger performance and effective partnerships to enhance the capability of the UN is needed for peacekeeping in the 21st century.
  • The newly introduced Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System (PCRS), which includes Assessment and Advisory Visits, pre-deployment visits and MOUs/LOAs must complement a broader strategy by the UN and Member States to develop more effective pledges.
  • Partnerships for the deployment of critical enablers should be focused on providing strategic or tactical airlift for enabling units, training, and improving the rapid response capability.
  • The deployment of a hospital to South Sudan by Vietnam in partnership with the UK, USA and Australia is an example of a successful partnership for the deployment of critical enablers.
  • The UN and Member States should continue to work together on the deployment of high-quality critical enablers like engineers, medical and aviation units.

Session 2: Key discussion points and recommendations on increasing the representation of women in national militaries and international deployments

  • Women are force multipliers in peacekeeping operations. All participants agreed that the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations will be enhanced with the inclusion of female peacekeepers.
  • At present out of 87,000 UN peacekeepers deployed in various peacekeeping missions only 2,200 are female which is less than 3% of the total deployed. In most peacekeeping mission areas, 51% of the locals are female.
  • Increased participation of females in UN peacekeeping operations will contribute to better understanding of the mission environment, better access to the locals, and better intelligence gathering. This will assist in successful implementation of mission mandates.
  • Participants supported the UN’s 15% target for female participation as Military Observer and Staff Officers in UN peacekeeping operations. Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa have already fulfilled this target.
  • Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Nepal are in the process of reaching the target by the end of 2017.
  • The UN requested all Member States to nominate females for Military Observer/Staff Officer positions to reach the target. The UN is also in the process of developing a concept or strategy to deploy female engagement teams at the platoon-level. Another priority for the UN is to increase female representation in senior management positions.
  • To reach the UN’s target, it was recommended that proper training of women peacekeepers, and incentives and challenges related to their deployment (long deployments, lack of female facilities, etc) must be addressed.

Session 3: Key discussion points and recommendations on UN peacekeeping reform

  • Assistant Secretary-General for the Department of Field Support, Lisa M. Buttenheim, gave an overview of the UN Secretary-General’s proposed reforms of the UN’s peace and security architecture and management system and structures.
  • The key features of the proposed reforms are;
    • First, the leadership of the Organization must be strengthened and empowered,
    • Second, the Organization must become more transparent, able to demonstrate a clearer link between resources and results, and it must strengthen its risk management frameworks,
    • Third, to enable effective and timely action, authorities must be delegated – responsibly and under clear conditions - so that they can be exercised closer to the point of delivery,
    • And fourth, the management structures at Headquarters must be reorganized to ensure the exercise of delegated authorities in support of effective and full mandate delivery, including through the elimination of duplicative functions, the establishment of a clearer division of roles and responsibilities and segregation of duties, and the assurance of appropriate checks and balances.
  • The calls for UN reform have been around for a long time and the reform proposal as presented by ASG Buttenheim is encouraging for Member States. UN reform must deal with varied challenges; structural reform must be accompanied by a willingness of Member States to resolve the tensions between national interests and international principles.
  • It was also stressed that the formulation of peacekeeping mandates must include host country representation and measures to eliminate the root causes of conflict. In cases of difficulty in integrating host country opinions, mission HQs must be empowered, tasked and encouraged to continue to engage with the hosts who would have been involved otherwise.
  • For effective mandate implementation, it was also suggested that important military commanders (Force Commanders and Sector Commanders) should be empowered with the authority to make changes to logistical arrangements on a case-by-case basis, as needed, within a peacekeeping operation.
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