Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Annan Reveals Vision for World Peacekeeping

Annan Reveals Vision for World Peacekeeping

U.N. Secretary-General Receives Jit Trainor Award Before Capacity Crowd in ICC

By Rebecca Sinderbrand Hoya Staff Writer

Every one of the United Nations’ Security Council members must be prepared to pay its share of peacekeeping costs “promptly, and in full,” according to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Annan addressed the future of United Nations peacekeeping in a speech at Georgetown University Tuesday night.

The secretary-general, who has maintained a working relationship with the United States often strained by differences of opinion on how best to deal with Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, gave his remarks in accepting the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy’s Jit Trainor Award. The award is given by the Georgetown program to an individual who has demonstrated “distinction the conduct of diplomacy.”

Annan delineated his vision of the U.N.’s role in stemming conflict around the world and needled the United States about its failure to pay its back dues to that body, now estimated at about $1 billion.

Donald F. McHenry, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who now teaches undergraduate and graduate classes at Georgetown, called the United States a “deadbeat” nation in his statement introducing Annan. The secretary-general took the podium and responded, “Just remember, you used the word, not me. Deadbeat.”

The soft-spoken Annan, an M.I.T. graduate who is a veteran of over three decades at the United Nations and the first secretary-general to be drawn from the ranks of the international civil service, then launched into an impassioned and detailed defense of international peacekeeping in general, and U.N. peacekeeping in particular.

The capacity crowd in ICC Auditorium enthusiastically applauded throughout his speech, and gave him several standing ovations. But his remarks seemed directed to an audience outside the Auditorium and ten minutes down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Annan said that he would always be “haunted” by the U.N.’s failure to halt the genocide in Rwanda in the mid-1990s that ultimately claimed over a million lives and created a tide of refugees that flooded and destabilized surrounding nations. Annan said he now believes that the peacekeeping force was withdrawn “at the very moment it should have been reinforced.”

The reason for the action was a lack of will on the part of Security Council members, said Annan. “[Words are of little value] unless we are sure that next time we will act differently.” Next time, he said, “We must not wait for hindsight to tell us the wisest course.”

Annan pointed to a “precipitous” decline in U.N. peacekeepers worldwide between 1994 and 1998, from nearly 80,000 to around 14,000. While the number of peacekeepers (U.N. or other) overall remains fairly constant, the real issue, says Annan, is U.N. involvement.

NATO has provided a “model peacekeeping force” in Bosnia, according to Annan. But he pointed out that most regional organizations are not capable of providing NATO’s resources or expertise. It is essential that peacekeeping operations rise to that level, he said, because when given the proper support, they have generally proven extremely effective.

More importantly, regional organizations often make the worst possible peacekeepers, because the players who are acting to preserve peace may have a stake in conflicts, or may have taken sides. Annan said that only the U.N., with its ability to coordinate troops from nations or continents far removed from parties involved with conflicts, can ultimately be viewed as a legitimate peacekeeping source.

Annan pointed to Namibia, Mozambique, El Salvador and Cambodia as examples of U.N. successes – all war-torn nations, all with a “fair chance of a lasting peace” thanks to the presence of U.N. peacekeepers in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

Some peacekeeping operations have been criticized in the past for lacking a coherent vision, clear goals and exit strategies. Annan said that peacekeeping should not be treated as a “distinct task, complete in itself.”

“[Peacekeeping] must be seen as part of a continuum stretching from prevention to conflict resolution to peace-building,” he said.

Annan stressed that peacekeeping operations have a great chance of success when they are supported by a significant majority of the Security Council, when they are entered into with “sufficient resources, including credible military strength,” and when everyone pays the money that they owe for the support of the operation.

Annan accepted questions from the audience after his speech. A College freshman asked if the mission of the U.N. was changing to service to individuals, rather than governmental entities.

Annan concurred, saying “The mission of the U.N. must be people, not politics.”

University President Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J. also spoke at Tuesday’s event, welcoming the secretary-general.

The Trainor award, which Annan was accepting, was established in honor of Raymond “Jit” Trainor, one of the earliest graduates of the School of Foreign Service, who worked in various capacities at the school from the time he received his M.S.F.S. in 1928 until his retirement in 1956. When Trainor died in 1976, alumni created an endowment to fund an award in his honor beginning in 1978.

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