After having directed UN peacekeeping operations for more than eight years, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the highest-ranking French national in the UN, may not renew his contract.
The 59-year old hailing from Brittany has been head of UN peacekeeping operations for more than eight years. He is the son of writer Jean Guéhenno, a former member of the Academie Française. FRANCE 24’s New York correspondent Phlippe Bolopian Guéhenno described the younger as “discreet but opinionated.”
Kofi Annan assigned Guéhenno to his current post in 2000. Bolopion recalls, “He took his post after the idea of peacekeeping had been discredited in the 90s. Under him it saw a true renaissance.”
The peacekeeping department is the most prestigious in the UN. Endowed with a 7 billion US dollar budget, it comprises 100,000 employees, spread over 20 missions worldwide.
Under this mandate, the number of blue UN helmets has tripled and peacekeeping operations have multiplied, from Sudan to Liberia to Lebanon.
Ghuéhenno, whose mantra was that force is not a magic potion, nonetheless advocated peacekeeping by aggressive means, as in Haiti or the DR Congo.
His accomplishments are largely hailed a succes by the UN but Bolopion cautions, “His mandate is nonetheless tainted by several instances of corruption and sexual scandal, which the UN was slow to recognize.”
Paris had so greatly wanted to keep French national on the post that it made an unofficial pact with the US and the United Kingdom. France agreed to back the US/UK’s choice for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, in exchange for the continued backing of Guéhenno to stay in the peacekeeping post. Bolopion notes that “Guéhenno’s departure will rekindle the covetousness of the US and the United Kingdom.”
Date created : 2008-03-06