|Lessons Learned: No Experience
One of the innovations encouraged by Kofi Annan in the peacekeeping
department was a section for "lessons learned." Headed for a long
while by Leonard Kapungu, this spearheaded an open dialogue, financed
through extra-budgetary contributions. Seminars were held in various
regions, with specific proposals.
The first gathering of field spokesman was held under his diligent
auspices. When Kapungu returned home to Zimbabwe, it was hoped
that the effort would be further strengthened by someone with
similar peacekeeping experience and equal credentials. The name
Nina Lehoud was mentioned. She had served in missions from UNIFIL
in Lebanon to Cambodia to Kosovo. At headquarters she was special
assistant to the popular Undersecretary General for Peacekeeping
Bernard Miyet. Lehoud has a proven record, tested commitment to
the UN and the confidence of her staff. None of this seems to
count, however. Nasra Khan of Pakistan was selected. Ms. Khan
has worked closely with former UNRWA chief Turkman. She has limited
peacekeeping experience, yet a potentially better understanding
of lessons that will have to be learned under Mr. Riza.
That followed a controversial appointment of a junior P-5 staffer
to a post at Focal Point for Women. A main point made by qualified
regular staff is that they are deprived of regular posts, which
are given instead to those on fixed terms or temporary contracts:
no superior qualification seem to be required, other than qualifying
A third case is in the works, this time for the head of Document
Control, where a Ms. Tolani, with only two years as P-5, is being
primed to take over a higher D-1 post. The appointment is on hold
to avoid scrutiny by the Appointments and Promotions Board. A
new system, more compliant to needy transient bosses, will be
in place in May, and she could thus receive the post "after following
the required procedure." Peacekeeping Mercenaries? Using "reputable"
mercenaries to complement UN peacekeeping tasks was proposed by
an influential group to the British Foreign and Commonwealth office.
They issued a study suggesting that some "private" military companies
that used experienced soldiers could be more effective than the
UN's regular peacekeeping troops.
This would allegedly allow the UN to intervene "urgently and
effectively" in a crisis. Clearly, the intervention by mercenaries
is not new. They were mainly used against the UN in the Congo
crisis in the 1960s by those supporting Moise Thconde's secession.
They have been blamed for the death of Secretary General Dag Hammerskjold
in a plane crash. Others worked for apartheid South Africa.
Every recent conflict has mercenaries operating on as many sides
as profitable, from Angola to Nigeria to Bosnia to the Congo to
Liberia and Sierre Leone. Is it now the UN's turn? True, international
civil service or impartial soldiering for peace has been consistently
eroded while attention is obsessively directed elsewhere; maligned
as "old hat" and unworthy of novel approaches. The gradual introduction
of "loan officers" from capable countries under the guise of the
financial crisis was the initial signal of a long range plan that
was blocked by the Fifth Committee, with a few undeserving victims,
but then allowed to escalate in recent years. Some experienced
diplomats wondered as to the general purpose, since it coincided
with personnel actions and personal ambitions.
When reviews of peacekeeping were highlighted, some again wondered
whether there was a hidden agenda, above and beyond the outstanding
spadework by those preparing the reports. No one seemed to pay
a price for failure, except the UN reputation. Some of those known
to be accountable were even promoted. Some reputed to have been
administrative and financial liabilities (and subject of investigations),
returned from discreet exile to assume fairly influential positions.
All that was taken as part of the shifting political power-plays
and changing personal fortunes. Privatizing activities like publishing
and television was billed as a way to get better service at lower
cost, disregarding the nature of UN work and the spirit of international
Would UN peacekeeping be privatized? Could it be contracted out?
Would it follow political affairs or administration and management,
like IMIS, for example, which started with a $10 million allocation
and still expands at only $100 million after 10 years of continuous
confusion and unabashed profit?
Admittedly, the UN is in a very accommodating world, open to
proposals and initiatives from any "reliable" or "reputable" source.
But mercenaries as peacekeepers? That may require more than the