By Jamshed Baruah
WARSAW (IDN) – Cooperation with the United Nations is becoming “increasingly important” for the world’s leading military alliance, NATO. The 28-nation bloc is therefore ready to “further deepen” existing interaction with the world body, particularly in view of the multiplying challenges to international peace and security.
While NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stressed that the military bloc “poses no threat to any country,” its leaders agreed to enhance NATO’s military presence on the Russian borders in the east, with four battalions in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on a rotational basis – to be in place starting 2017.
Political observers expect this decision to deepen tensions with Russia, which would be reflected in the UN Security Council’s deliberations influenced by five veto wielding permanent members (P5): U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France.
In the United Nations’ most powerful body with “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”, Russia would be pitted against U.S. Britain and France that are powerful NATO member states.
In its Warsaw Summit Communique, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization nevertheless reiterates its commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and adds: “We welcome the continued growth in political dialogue and practical cooperation between NATO and the UN, covering a broad range of areas of mutual interest.”
Recalling the Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping in September 2015 in New York, the Communique states: “NATO pledged to enhance its support to UN peace operations, including in the areas of counter-improvised explosive devices, training and preparedness, improving the UN’s ability to deploy more rapidly into the field, and through cooperation on building defence capacity in countries at risk.”
According to the UN, the 2015 Leadership Summit, in which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. President Barack Obama joined nearly 50 heads of state and government, “was a historic moment for UN Peacekeeping with unprecedented levels of support coming from all regions of the globe”.
The participants’ pledges amounted to more than 40,000 troops and police, as well as critical “enablers” including more than 40 helicopters, 22 engineering companies, 11 naval and riverine units, and 13 field hospitals.
“An unprecedented number of countries made substantial pledges to strengthen peacekeeping operations at a time when the need is greater than ever,” said the UN Head of Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous. “Together, we can meet the challenges ahead to protect the most vulnerable and support peace and security worldwide,” he added.
The 2015 Leaders’ Summit took place at the UN Headquarters in New York and was co-chaired by Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Japan, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Rwanda, Uruguay and the United States.
The Warsaw Summit Communique released on July 9, 2016 assures: “We stand by this commitment and remain ready to further deepen our interaction in these and other fields, including through NATO’s participation in the follow-up conference to be held in London in September of this year.”
The 26 European heads of state and government and of the U.S. and Canada affirm that NATO’s essential mission is unchanged: to ensure that the Alliance remains an unparalleled community of freedom, peace, security, and shared values, including individual liberty, human rights, democracy, and the rule of law.
“We are united in our commitment to the Washington Treaty (of the founding of NATO in April 1949), the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations (UN), and the vital transatlantic bond. To protect and defend our indivisible security and our common values, the Alliance must and will continue fulfilling effectively all three core tasks as set out in the Strategic Concept: collective defence, crisis management, and cooperative security. These tasks remain fully relevant, are complementary, and contribute to safeguarding the freedom and security of all Allies.”
The backdrop to these is that in 2010, following the signing of the 2008 UN-NATO declaration on cooperation, NATO reinforced its liaison arrangements by creating the post of NATO Civilian Liaison Officer to the United Nations, in addition to that of a Military Liaison Officer, established in 1999.
The NATO website highlights that practical cooperation between NATO and the UN extends beyond operations to include: crisis assessment and management, civil-military cooperation, training and education, tackling corruption in the defence sector, mine action, mitigating the threat posed by improvised explosive devices, civilian capabilities, promoting the role of women in peace and security, the protection of civilians, including children, in armed conflict, combating sexual and gender-based violence, arms control and non-proliferation, and the fight against terrorism.
UN Security Council Resolutions have provided the mandate for NATO’s operations in the Western Balkans, Afghanistan and Libya. They have also provided the framework for NATO’s training mission in Iraq.
NATO has also supported UN-sponsored operations, including logistical assistance to the African Union’s UN-endorsed peacekeeping operations in Darfur, Sudan, and in Somalia; support for UN disaster-relief operations in Pakistan, following the massive earthquake in 2005; and escorting merchant ships carrying World Food Programme humanitarian supplies off the coast of Somalia.
The Warsaw Summit Communique calls on the Syrian regime to fully comply with the provisions of all relevant UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs), and to immediately take steps for a genuine political transition in accordance with UNSCR 2254 and the June 30, 2012 Geneva Communiqué.
The NATO leaders underline that stability and security cannot be reinstated in Syria without a genuine political transition to a new, representative leadership, based on an inclusive and Syrian-led political process. In this vein, they support the political process under the auspices of the UN and the efforts of the International Syria Support Group to assist the political process.
They call for full implementation of the humanitarian provisions of the UNSCR 2254 and the Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) agreement, adding: “We strongly condemn the violations of the CoH, in particular by the regime and its supporters. These violations constitute a serious hindrance for the political process. We call upon the parties to the CoH to remain committed to the agreement and its full implementation.” [IDN-InDepthNews – 9 July 2016]
Photo: NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg (left) with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the UN Peacekeeping Summit in September 2015 in New York. Credit: NATO.
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