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Kai Eide Being Courted in Washington DC

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Visiting Washington a little over a month into his new job as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan, Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide — whose candidacy only emerged after renowned British negotiator Paddy Ashdown’s was shot down by the Afghan government — is being received with wide open arms here in the U.S. After speaking at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace today — where he cited the confidence that the “highest authorities of the U.S. administration” have in him — Eide will be meeting with the top levels of the U.S. foreign policy brass: Secretary of State Rice, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and even President Bush.

The red carpet being rolled out for Eide is indicative of the importance that the administration has recognized in an increased role for the United Nations in Afghanistan. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad testified to this importance himself, in a New York Times op-ed last month, in which he praised the nomination of Eide and outlined the roles that the UN should be fulfilling in Afghanistan.

The expanded responsibilities that Khalilzad envisioned for the UN in Afghanistan line up closely with those identified by Eide: coordinating civilian and military efforts, ensuring that resources for aid are spent effectively and with appropriate oversight, combating corruption in the Afghan government, and strengthening the country’s police and justice systems. Eide has consistently emphasized that international involvement in Afghanistan must be seen not solely through a military lens, but as a broader political project; while he expressed confidence that the U.S. has increasingly adopted this perspective, it remains crucial for the U.S. to see beyond the military situation of the country.

The U.S. will also need to back up its warm reception for Mr. Eide with concrete support for the UN mission that he leads. For the administration to saddle Eide with increasing responsibilities, yet fail to provide the necessary resources, would be both hypocritical and counterproductive. To demonstrate its commitment to the UN’s role in Afghanistan, the U.S. Congress should begin by approving the $53 million in the FY 2008 supplemental funding bill designated to fund the UN’s political missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and could follow by paying up on its long-standing back dues to the UN regular budget, out of which missions like the one in Afghanistan are funded.

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Reasons for UNAMID’s Failure

If we accept the fact that UNAMID is a failure, then we need to ask a number of questions as to why. Questions that produce answers that go beyond the obvious point that mandates are too convoluted and that peacekeeping is overstretched, and that produce useful lessons — for example, for the Security Council as it continues to consider authorizing a UN mission for Somalia.

I will touch on some of these, but first want to make the point that failure implies blame. Should Rodolphe Adada and General Martin Agwai be blamed for UNAMID failure? Obviously not at this point; they cannot be expected to deliver effectively on an ambitious mandate with only a third of their authorized peacekeepers on the ground. UNAMID points not so much to mission failure, but rather to a failure to deploy: To a failed force generation process; to failures in analysis and decision-making — not in El Fasher, but in New York City; and to the failure of UN member states to pony up what they promised. A number of reasons for UNAMID’s failure to deploy that have been bandied about over the past months, often together with apportionment of blame. Council and DPKO blame Khartoum for its obstructionism, Khartoum blames DPKO for not getting its act and its mission assets together, and DPKO blames member states for not proving helicopters and other mission enablers — and for pledging troop contingents that are not up to standard and that lack means of sustainment in the field. There is plenty of blaming being done, and there are plenty of excuses being made. However, the biggest failure is arguably that of the Security Council, especially, to implement a number of fundamental recommendations that were made years ago — and a failure of DPKO to insist to Council that these should be heeded.

I refer of course to the August 2000 Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, better known as the Brahimi Report. This report, which Bill Durch played a big role in producing, is the most definitive study of peacekeeping “lessons learned” ever produced, and contains the most practical and sensible recommendations ever made about how to improve peacekeeping. Many of the Brahimi recommendations have been ignored in the process of standing up UNAMID. However the following two that have obvious explanatory value for the failure to deploy the full mission in Darfur (within 90 days, according to Brahimi standards):

  • The Security Council and the Secretariat must be able to win the confidence of troop contributors that the strategy and concept of operations for a new mission are sound and that they will be sending troops and police to serve under a competent mission with effective leadership.
  • The Security Council should leave in draft form resolutions authorizing missions with sizable troop levels until such time as the Secretary-General has firm commitments of troops and other critical mission support elements, including peace-building elements, from Member States.

Peacekeeping is overstretched, but I do not think it is broken. There are too many missions currently deployed that are doing a good job. But the camel’s back must have a breaking point, and authorizing a mission in Somalia while ignoring past lessons and sound recommendations may well be the last straw.

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Reasons for UNAMID’s Failure

If we accept the fact that UNAMID is a failure, then we need to ask a number of questions as to why. Questions that produce answers that go beyond the obvious point that mandates are too convoluted and that peacekeeping is overstretched, and that produce useful lessons — for example, for the Security Council as it continues to consider authorizing a UN mission for Somalia.

I will touch on some of these, but first want to make the point that failure implies blame. Should Rodolphe Adada and General Martin Agwai be blamed for UNAMID failure? Obviously not at this point; they cannot be expected to deliver effectively on an ambitious mandate with only a third of their authorized peacekeepers on the ground. UNAMID points not so much to mission failure, but rather to a failure to deploy: To a failed force generation process; to failures in analysis and decision-making — not in El Fasher, but in New York City; and to the failure of UN member states to pony up what they promised. A number of reasons for UNAMID’s failure to deploy that have been bandied about over the past months, often together with apportionment of blame. Council and DPKO blame Khartoum for its obstructionism, Khartoum blames DPKO for not getting its act and its mission assets together, and DPKO blames member states for not proving helicopters and other mission enablers — and for pledging troop contingents that are not up to standard and that lack means of sustainment in the field. There is plenty of blaming being done, and there are plenty of excuses being made. However, the biggest failure is arguably that of the Security Council, especially, to implement a number of fundamental recommendations that were made years ago — and a failure of DPKO to insist to Council that these should be heeded.

I refer of course to the August 2000 Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, better known as the Brahimi Report. This report, which Bill Durch played a big role in producing, is the most definitive study of peacekeeping “lessons learned” ever produced, and contains the most practical and sensible recommendations ever made about how to improve peacekeeping. Many of the Brahimi recommendations have been ignored in the process of standing up UNAMID. However the following two that have obvious explanatory value for the failure to deploy the full mission in Darfur (within 90 days, according to Brahimi standards):

  • The Security Council and the Secretariat must be able to win the confidence of troop contributors that the strategy and concept of operations for a new mission are sound and that they will be sending troops and police to serve under a competent mission with effective leadership.
  • The Security Council should leave in draft form resolutions authorizing missions with sizable troop levels until such time as the Secretary-General has firm commitments of troops and other critical mission support elements, including peace-building elements, from Member States.

Peacekeeping is overstretched, but I do not think it is broken. There are too many missions currently deployed that are doing a good job. But the camel’s back must have a breaking point, and authorizing a mission in Somalia while ignoring past lessons and sound recommendations may well be the last straw.

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UN Plaza: Can We Blame Global Food Prices on Speculators?

In this segment, Matthew Lee speculates that speculators have had a hand in the rapid increase in food prices. Mathew explains:

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UN Plaza: Can We Blame Global Food Prices on Speculators?

In this segment, Matthew Lee speculates that speculators have had a hand in the rapid increase in food prices. Mathew explains:

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Monday Morning Coffee

Top Stories

>>ZimbabwePartial results from the recount of the vote in the parliamentary election, released over the weekend, confirm that President Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party has lost control of parliament. Results from 18 of 23 constituencies have been retabulated and confirmed with no seats changing hands. Mugabe will now have to choose whether to appoint an opposition cabinet or attempt to run the country on presidential orders instead of parliamentary legislation. Representatives from Mugabe and opposition leadership will be invited to verify results from the presidential election today, prior to their release. It is possible that opposition leader Tsvangirai has won outright and will avoid a runoff but not likely.

>>Afghanistan – Suspected Taliban insurgents executed a well-coordinated, but unsuccessful assassination attempt against President Karzai during the Afghan national day military parade on Sunday. Three were killed in the attack — a tribal chief, a member of parliament, and a 10-year-old boy. Afghan security forces, which the government has pressed as a replacement for foreign troops guarding Kabul, prepared for weeks in advance of the event. The Taliban, claiming to have received help from within the security forces, worked in two teams, one working a mortar and the other guns, which were fired into the V.I.P stands.

>>Olympics – On Sunday the Olympic torch traveled to North and South Korea. In South Korea, it was greeted by protesters seeking better treatment for North Korean refugees in China and thousands of young pro-China demonstrators who subsequently attacked the others with rocks and steel pipes. Two North Korean refugees attempted to light themselves on fire in protest. North Korea on the other hand, was the least contentious stop on the torch’s world tour. Tens of thousands of North Koreans waving flags lined the 12-mile route. Meanwhile Chinese authorities are locking down Lhasa in advance of the torch’s visit.

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