Saturday, March 11, 2006

Malloch Brown appointed Deputy UN Secretary-General

America and Europe should provide troops and money for a major international peacekeeping force for Darfur, the new deputy UN secretary-general, Mark Malloch Brown, said yesterday. Guardian report excerpt:

Mr Malloch Brown, who was appointed last Friday, told the Guardian that only modern mobile forces, trained in helicopter operations, could be effective in Darfur. Peacekeeping operations by poorly equipped African and Asian countries were no longer sufficient.

"We want the rest of the world to make a higher level of contributions to peacekeeping, involving more mainstream militaries around the world. It's going to need a whole new level of investment and logistical support," he said.

British-born Mr Malloch Brown, 52, said he had been involved in discussions at the White House when Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, met George Bush last month. Contrary to subsequent reports, Mr Malloch Brown said the Americans were not to blame for a lack of involvement. "The president is the hawk on this and the whole of the Washington system is running to make sure they live up to his demands," he said.

"The president is driven by this belief, as many have said, that there will be no Rwanda on his watch and perhaps by the Christian evangelicals as well - but also by a common humanity. I think [Mr] Bush really wants to do something there but with the caution that he does not want it to be heavily American or to provoke the Sudanese or deter others from joining in."

Mr Malloch Brown said the developed world could not continue to rely on African and Asian countries to supply troops that were already overstretched and undersubscribed for peacekeeping missions.

"I think if the P5 [the permanent five members of the security council: Britain, the US, France, Russia and China] and the rest of the security council endorses this mission, they're going to find that their own public opinion, newspapers, media and advocacy groups are going to be asking them, 'OK, are you going to put your money and troops and logistics where you mouth is?'

"That is not going to be a no-cost decision for the P5. I'm not predicting that it is going to be ground troops but somehow or other there is going to have to be major support from a significant number of European governments." He added: "You can't do this [peacekeeping in Darfur] through just troops on the ground with Landcruisers or lightly armoured vehicles because this place is the size of France. However many troops you have, the only way they are going to be effective in preventing attacks on civilians is if they are highly mobile.

"That means militarised helicopters that can protect themselves against ground fire and troops trained in helicopter-based operations. This is a very different model of peacekeeping."

The US has said it wants to provide only logistical support in Darfur, but Mr Malloch Brown believes even this level of involvement would be complicated. "Logistical support is helicopters and those helicopters are going to have to fly troops into action.

"You may not be providing the troops but you are potentially putting your people in harm's way. I think the US hasn't made up its mind."

Full Guardian report by Ewen MacAskill and Simon Tisdall, 11 March 2006.

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