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  December 1999    

Peace-keeping is topic of UN Day Symposium
On Friday, 22 October 1999, the United Nations University (UNU) hosted a public UN Day Symposium at the UNU Centre in Tokyo. The topic for this year's symposium was "United Nations Peace-keeping: Reflections on the Continuing Challenge."

Since the first UN Peace-keeping Operation (PKO) was launched in the Middle East more than a half-century ago, nearly 50 PKOs have been deployed throughout the world to manage or resolve local conflicts. While the number of UN PKOs has increased dramatically since the end of the Cold War, this multiplication of missions has not always been based on coherent policy or supported by integrated military and political response.

At the October UN Day Symposium, panellists gave an overview of recent UNU PKO activities and considered the problems and challenges of averting or resolving conflict, feasible responses for improving the formulation and application of peace-keeping efforts, and the appropriate role of the UN in such efforts.

The symposium began at 10:00 a.m. with a message from United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and opening remarks by UNU Rector Hans van Ginkel. UNU Vice-Rector Ramesh Thakur served as moderator for the sessions. The morning session, "Reflections from the Field," featured presentations by three former UN Peace-keeping Force Commanders: Lt. General John Sanderson, former Military Component Commander of the UN Transition Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC); Lt. General Satish Nambiar, former Commander, UN Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR); and Maj. General Jioji Konousi Konrote, former Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The afternoon session, "Political, Organizational and Scholarly Perspectives," focused on the changing role of the UN. Yasushi Akashi, former UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, spoke on the "politics" of UN peace-keeping from Cambodia to Yugoslavia, while Hisako Shimura, former Divisional Director of the UN Department of Peace-keeping Operations, spoke on the organizational role of the UN Secretariat. Profs. Margaret Karns (Univ. of Dayton) and Karen Mingst (Univ. of Kentucky) wrapped up the session with a consideration of the UN's changing role in the new millennium.

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