Thursday, September 21, 2006

UN Peacekeeping in Darfur and Lebanon

Event Title: UN Peacekeeping in Darfur and Lebanon
Sponsor: Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
Location: CSIS
Date: Tuesday September 19, 2006
Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Approximate Number of Attendees: 35- 40
Intern Attending: Saadiqa Lundy

Speaker: Jane Holl Lute, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping operations

Jane Holl Lute is the UN Assistant Secretary-general for Peace Keeping operations. Since her appointment to this position she has started ten new peacekeeping missions, Darfur being the tenth one. Lute recently returned from a trip to Lebanon. During the event she provided insight into how the deployment of UN peacekeepers to Lebanon is proceeding and described what the UN peacekeepers in Lebanon can-and can not do. She also addressed the present situation in Sudan, discussing whether UN peacekeepers could be deployed without Sudan’s consent.

Lute began the discussion by addressing what it will take to get the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon’s [UNIFIL] mission up and running. According to Lute, the UN Peacekeepers are trying to normalize operations as quickly as possible and are moving on a self deployment basis. The Lebanese armed forces have deployed 15,000 troops up to the blue line, the maximum allowed. However, they are trying to expand the 15,000 force and UNIFIL will have a maritime component. Lute considered this to be an historical event because the UN is trying out new and creative deployment strategies. More troops are being deployed for this mission compared to other missions that have taken place in the past. Also, Lebanon is not an integrated mission. These factors are significant because scale and the diversity of challenges can effect how things will ultimately play out. A strategic planning cell has been designed and oriented by UNIFIL to help develop a strategic dialogue. The first phase of deployment will be completed at the end of September and the second phase will begin in November. Throughout this mission UNIFIL’s role will be to assist the Lebanese government in establishing sovereign control within its territory. Lute stressed the fact that disarmament is not part of the UNIFIL mandate.

Lute proceeded to move the focus of the discussion to Darfur. According to Lute, the UN peacekeepers are ready to go to Darfur. However, they can not be deployed without consent from the Sudanese government. A political commitment needs to be made by the Sudanese government before the UN can take action. Lute argued that a peacekeeping mission cannot and should not proceed without such commitments from the Sudanese government. On the other hand, if the peacekeepers are granted permission to operate in Sudan, they will be faced with a number of other problems, including access to water. Water is already a major issue for the people of Darfur, and any UN peacekeeping force would inherit the problem upon entering the region. This would likely be one of the primary obstacles for a UN peacekeeping force operating in Darfur. Nonetheless, if they can secure the agreement of the Sudanese government, the peacekeepers are prepared to begin deployment three to six months from the day they receive that consent.

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