Jan Pronk’s Wisdom
Before his final departure from Sudan in December 2006, Jan Pronk addressed the UN staff in Khartoum and Juba. In his address he presented fifteen guidelines for peacekeepers. They were reproduced on his weblog.
Here they are:
First: United Nations peacekeepers in a country are visitors. Their presence is temporary. Their function is catalytic, no more. Peace ought to be home grown.
Second: There is no peacekeeping without peace. Peace, to be made by the parties to a conflict themselves, should precede efforts to keep the peace.
Third: The sovereignty of a state has to be respected, but brought into balance with the protection of the people within that state. Keep that balance!
Fourth: Respect national traditions and domestic cultures
Fifth: International staff members should respect national staff members, their views and their positions. They are vulnerable: they have no ticket to leave the country. They know their country better than you. National staff members should have patience with international staff members. They could have chosen for comfort back home. They are idealists, or anyway, once they have been idealists.
Sixth: All UN staff members have the duty to follow a unified approach, in whichever agency they work, as peacekeepers or as humanitarian and development workers. That implies a commitment to the same goals and a duty to respect the same boundary conditions, for instance those set by the Security Council representing the international community. A unified approach of all UN agencies also implies the duty to consult each other about each other’s work, the duty to cooperate and to use a common infrastructure and common services. Finally this unified approach requires the acceptance of a unified command.
Seventh: Delegate, decentralize, trust your staff and show this to them.
Eight: Work as a team.
Nine: The field is more important than headquarters. People in headquarters should understand this. But those who are working in the field, when critical about headquarters, should be aware that they are not “the” field, but that, farther away, other colleagues may consider them too as a headquarter
Ten: Never be satisfied. There is no room for complacency, despite many achievements.
Eleven: Insecurity, risk, uncertainty and political pressure are not a hindrance, but a challenge. They are no exceptions to a normal and stable pattern. They are not exogenous factors, but inherent to peacekeeping.
Twelve: Fight bureaucracy. Fight also the bureaucrat in yourself. Stay a movement; keep the spirit of a pioneer.
Thirteen: Care for people. People first.
Fourteen: Peacekeeping is a calling, not a job.
Fifteen: Please, stay.