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Panel Discussions - Thursday, June 03, 2010

NATO: “UN Cannot Achieve Everything on Its Own”

"Everybody realizes that even the UN, with its broad mandate, large experience, and unique position among international organizations, often cannot achieve everything on its own,” said General Stéphane Abrial, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), at an IPI roundtable discussion on June 3rd. 

“This is not a new realization,” he added. “In many ways, the concept of regional arrangements or agencies foreseen by the UN Charter is an embodiment of this idea. However, since the end of the Cold War, this has become ever more relevant, as the challenges facing the international community have grown in scope, nature and complexity.”

In his remarks, General Abrial, who is of French nationality and the first European to be appointed permanently as head of a NATO strategic command, described the positive ongoing trend in UN-NATO relations, as well as an important history of engagement, from Bosnia, to Kosovo to the current cooperation in Afghanistan. He also commented on the role and relevant activities of NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT), based in Norfolk, Virginia. One important dimension of the ACT is to help NATO develop relationships, interaction and practical cooperation with partners, nations and international organizations, such as the UN.

The roundtable discussion, conducted under the Chatham House Rule of nonattribution, further explored the topic of UN-NATO partnership in conflict-affected states, as well as the development of what NATO calls the “Comprehensive Approach.” The goal of the Comprehensive Approach, General Abrial explained, is to enhance the effectiveness of civilian-military cooperation in the field, as well as to develop a strong network of partnerships among the various organizations working to achieve peace and stability. In that respect, Abrial suggested expanding the UN-NATO partnership to take advantage of both organizations' lessons-learned databases, participate jointly in exercises and training, as well as use the ACT in Norfolk as a hub of interaction between the two organizations.

The discussion was chaired by Dr. Edward C. Luck, IPI Senior Vice President for Research and Programs, and was attended by members of the UN diplomatic community and senior UN staff.

General Abrial’s remarks

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