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Peacekeepers vital, world leaders say

  |   Sept. 24, 2010 at 1:15 PM
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UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Tackling systemic conflict and sexual violence like the atrocities on the Congo requires a comprehensive role in peacekeeping operations, world leaders said.

World leaders discussed global peacekeeping operations on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly under way at U.N. headquarters this week.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Congo deflected criticism that it ignored warnings that surfaced days before hundreds of women were gang-raped some 20 miles from their base.

Atul Khare, the U.N. assistant secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, said his investigation found that while the safety of citizens is the responsibility of the state, failures could be traced to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Congo.

U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton told U.N. delegates that U.N. forces were struggling with challenging mandates and a lack of resources.

"We are concerned about the growing gap between multifaceted mission requirements and the resources available to meet them," she said in her statement. "Too often, despite their ambitious mandates, U.N. missions lack key capacities."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, for his part, told delegates that early deployment was vital so that peace building and peacekeeping could go hand-in-hand.

"Peace building needs to happen as soon as possible in order for belligerents and the wider population to have the confidence to invest in a peace agreement," he said.

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