Remarks by Ambassador Joseph Torsella, US Ambassador to the United Nations, UN Security Council Briefing on Inter-Mission Cooperation,

Ambassador Joseph M Torsella
U.S. Representative for UN Management and Reform 
New York, NY
December 12, 2012


Thank you, Mr. President. As a leading voice on UN peacekeeping operations and a long-standing troop contributing country, Morocco is ideally placed to organize this debate. We are grateful you have taken this initiative during your Presidency. We also appreciate the participation of top troop and police contributing countries in this debate today. The success of peacekeeping relies on the contributions and sacrifice of peacekeepers, for which the United States takes this opportunity to express our gratitude. And we thank Under-Secretary-Generals Ladsous and Haq for their briefings and for the tireless efforts of their departments.

Turning to the subject before us, the United States supports greater inter-mission cooperation for three main reasons. First, in some cases the only way for the UN to respond rapidly to an unexpected crisis or establish a critical new mission is by drawing on resources from another existing mission. It is untenable to wait several months to generate fresh forces and procure essential equipment, if thousands of lives and the UN’s credibility may hang in the balance. Second, there are certain threats that affect more than one mission in a sub-region. It therefore stands to reason that they should cooperate to tackle that common threat. Third, it simply does not make sense for each mission to create its own administrative and logistics support structure, if economies of scale and efficiencies can be achieved through common services across several missions.

For all these reasons, the United States is convinced of the need for greater inter-mission cooperation. But this is on the understanding that much work remains to be done to ensure we don’t help one mission by hurting another; we don’t commit TCCs to one task, when they had signed up for another; and, we don’t allow stop-gap measures to become substitutes for long-term planning and preparedness. Fortunately, there are positive examples to build on, but also hard-lessons to be learned.

The UN’s peacekeeping missions in West Africa have been among its most successful in recent memory. Part of that success stems from the cooperation among them. The missions in Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have undertaken joint-patrols and shared information to address common threats posed by rebel groups freely crossing borders. And these missions have reinforced each other in times of crisis. For example, as we heard, UNOCI was able to respond to the extremely precarious security situation that arose following the first round of Cote d’Ivoire’s 2010 presidential elections, because of rapid reinforcements drawn from UNMIL.

The UN has made headway in countering the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army, because MONUSCO, UNMISS, UNOCA and BINUCA are working together to address this threat that plagues the entire Great Lakes region. These missions would have made far less progress if they worked in isolation.

The scope and benefits of inter-mission cooperation are plainly evident, but the system is far from perfect, as we saw earlier this year. UNMISS would not have been able to get to the remote areas of Jonglei, where security was rapidly deteriorating, if not for a reinforcement of helicopters obtained from MONUSCO. But many of those helicopters arrived only after the worst phases of the crisis had passed. The ad-hoc nature of the system was not equipped to respond rapidly enough.

We appreciate the Secretary-General’s intention to take a more strategic and predictable approach to the provision of common administrative and logistics support to missions through his Global Field Support Strategy (GFSS). GFSS has already dramatically improved the effective and efficient sharing of scarce assets such as aircraft, and has standardized and streamlined routine administrative functions across missions. We therefore look forward to full implementation of all aspects of the Strategy in the coming years.

In closing, Mr. President, as inter-mission cooperation becomes an increasingly important tool for UN field operations, we strongly urge the Secretariat to explore lessons learned and develop standard practices to enhance the speed of response, improve performance, account for costs in advance, and capture efficiencies.

Of course, inter-mission cooperation is not a substitute for ensuring each and every mission has the resources it needs to carry out its own mandates. Nor is it the solution for addressing long-standing capacity gaps. Indeed, while the United States views inter-mission cooperation as an important mechanism to address challenges faced by UN missions, the Council has a continuing responsibility to ensure that each mission can stand fully on its own. Our challenge, then, is to both uphold that responsibility while also accruing benefits from the types of inter-mission cooperation highlighted here today.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.


PRN: 2012/288