Ireland explores greater EU/UN military overlap


THE GOVERNMENT has called for a debate in the EU on deeper military co-operation with the UN, saying the union now has capabilities necessary to make UN missions more effective.

In a “food for thought” paper presented to EU ambassadors, Ireland says the EU should look to how the union can extend its support for the UN, including by directly supporting the planning and operational cycles of missions.

The paper calls for examination of the potential to go beyond separate EU-led and UN-led missions “to the concept of EU force components forming an integral component of a UN ‘blue helmet’ operation”.

Ireland says the proposal raises complex but not insurmountable questions, adding that it also presents numerous opportunities for greater coherence in national planning and scope for financial savings.

“EU member states would have the reassurance of being part of an EU force element, while at the same time contributing directly to, and reinforcing, UN-led crisis management operations.

“It would increase the standing, influence and visibility of the union as a whole within the UN, particularly in relation to peace-keeping/peace-building operations, as EU member states would not alone be promoters and financiers of missions, but also major mission contributors,” it says.

Deeper co-operation would also provide an opportunity to increase the international composition of UN forces and “reverse the trend of UN operations being staffed solely from the region in which a conflict arises”. As such, it could lessen the burden on developing countries, while at the same time not undermining continued regional ownership.

The paper also says it will “be necessary to reconcile the issue of EU autonomy of action” with the operational requirements of UN missions operating under the control of the UN Security Council.