Amid sweeping reforms occurring against a backdrop of increased security threats targeting Blue Helmets, partners must work more closely to ensure continued progress in making United Nations missions more safe, accountable, secure and effective, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations heard today as it opened its 2019 substantive session.
The three-week session will focus on some of the pressing issues facing the more than 100,000 military, police and civilian personnel from 125 countries currently serving in 14 operations.
Alexandre Zouev, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, told delegates that, like the whole of the United Nations, this is a transformational moment for peacekeeping, with far-reaching management reforms aimed at creating more effective, efficient field missions. “Peacekeeping is fundamentally a partnership,” he said, stressing that the topics the Special Committee will address go to the heart of peacekeeping, including safety and security, partnerships, performance and accountability. Hopefully, he said, the Special Committee will consider the promises made in the Action for Peace Declaration of Shared Commitments for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations as it seeks to make progress in those important areas.
Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, said peacekeeping is the Organization’s most financially significant activity, with more than 90 per cent of peacekeeping personnel serving in the field. Peacekeeping has also repeatedly proven its worth in terms of cost-effectiveness, efficiency and impact. Not only are United Nations peacekeepers the second-largest deployed force in the world, but cost just half of 1 per cent of world military expenditures. They also have helped to address conflict and contribute to sustainable peace in dozens of situations, most recently in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. However, fundamental challenges exist, he said, encouraging delegates to ensure that the session delivers constructive and forward-looking recommendations on how to improve peacekeeping, while considering the shared nature of responsibility for its success.
Jan Beagle, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, said paying for peacekeeping operations is a critical concern. As such, her Department is committed to working more closely with senior leadership in the field to develop financing proposals that are strategic and realistic while enabling missions to deliver on their mandates. Reimbursements to troop- and police-contributing countries remain an absolute priority. Greater focus on results of ongoing reforms will require principled, action-oriented, pragmatic, innovative and collaborative leadership, with the new Uniformed Capabilities Division acting as a single point of entry for support and reimbursement issues for both Member States and counterparts within the Secretariat.
Lang Yabou (Gambia), Vice-President of the General Assembly, speaking on behalf of its President, stressed that peacekeepers save lives, prevent conflict and encourage development and, by sustaining peace, play an important role in helping to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Ensuring that the peacekeeping mandate is practical and well funded is essential, as peacekeepers must be properly equipped to fully discharge their duties.
Marking the first Special Committee session to incorporate the Secretary-General’s new Action on Peacekeeping initiative, endorsed by 151 States, delegates began their annual general debate by highlighting priority areas for consideration in forthcoming negotiations for its final report, slated to be adopted when the session concludes on 8 March. Some underlined the critical importance of assessments and reviews of mission performance, while many shined a spotlight on ensuring safety and security of mission personnel, particularly after a spate of attacks targeting them. Some cited a report by Lieutenant General (Retired) Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil), calling for action to provide peacekeepers with the tools required to do their jobs.
From representatives of countries contributing troops to those hosting missions, the Special Committee heard a range of views, including from delegates who expressed condolences for the recent deaths of peacekeepers serving in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
The death of one of its “Blue Helmets” is one too many, Mali’s representative said, highlighting several emerging challenges, including among other things the changing complexity of conflict, asymmetric attacks by terrorist groups and transnational organized crime. Reiterating his Government’s appeals for MINUSMA to be provided with the equipment it needs, as well as rules of engagement that are adapted to the situation in the country, he welcomed any initiative that would improve security.
Some speakers offered suggestions for tackling these and other challenges, from finding innovative ways to address equipment shortfalls to adopting more nuanced on-the-ground approaches. Fiji’s delegate explained that as a troop-contributing country, his Government pays close attention to fostering much-needed “soft skills” that men and women bring to missions. Such skills focus on understanding cultures and values, seeing how women and children become disadvantaged in conflict, recognizing signs of individual and group stress early.
Many representatives also emphasized the critical importance of including women in operations, and of working hard to stamp out sexual exploitation and abuse, with all actors taking their responsibility in administering swift justice.
Other delegates, speaking for regional groups, stressed the importance of the United Nations intensifying its partnerships, particularly with the African Union. Many also underscored that peacekeeping operations must be viewed as a last resort. The European Union’s representative underlined the importance of political solutions to conflicts, addressing root causes and drivers of conflict, and giving priority to prevention.
Some addressed the issues of mission mandates and performance evaluation. Morocco’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, called on the Security Council to strongly commit to drafting clear and achievable mandates in consultation with States of concern and troop- and police-contributing countries. “Boots on the ground are the guarantors of the successful implementation of mandates; their advice is required for any change in mandates,” he said, also proposing a series of measures regarding triangular cooperation.
Raising related concerns, Indonesia’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that with a trend of ongoing conflicts around the world showing no sign of abating, the United Nations must change the way it conducts peacekeeping operations. Commending the Secretary-General for his Action for Peacekeeping initiative, he said that while this effort is not a silver bullet to all problems in peacekeeping, if exercised faithfully by key stakeholders, it can address some of the most pressing concerns. Echoing a common call, he said that above all, adequate resourcing is required to ensure the successful fulfilment of peacekeeping mandates. “We cannot continue demanding more and more from our peacekeepers while giving less and less,” he said, calling on Member States to fulfil their financial obligations in full and without conditions.
Also voicing a common desire, Canada’s delegate, speaking also for Australia and New Zealand, emphasized that the session offers an opportunity to strengthen African peacekeeping capacity and improve gains in performance, accountability, safety and security and to further increase a collective commitment to make progress on women, peace and security initiatives. Efforts should also include filling gaps in national capacity for training with initiatives involving Member States working together, with a light coordination mechanism being an invaluable tool to foster improvements. Moreover, hard lessons learned in past missions can provide valuable guidance for future efforts.
At the outset of the meeting, the Special Committee re-elected, by acclamation, Tijani Muhammad Bande (Nigeria) as its Chair. It then elected, again by acclamation, Alejandro Verdier (Argentina), Richard Arbeiter (Canada), Hiroyuki Namazu (Japan) and Mariusz Lewicki (Poland) as its Vice-Chairs and Tarek Mahfouz (Egypt) as its Rapporteur. It also adopted its agenda and programme of work and decided to establish a Working Group as a Whole, chaired by Canada.
Throughout the general debate, delegates offered condolences to Governments of affected States and police- and troop-contributing countries – from Chad to Sri Lanka - after recent attacks on peacekeepers around the world.
Also delivering statements were representatives of India, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Pakistan, Japan, China, France, Norway, Nepal, Philippines, Bangladesh, Ireland, Guatemala, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Jamaica, Uruguay, Switzerland, Kenya, United States, Thailand, Turkey, Egypt, El Salvador, Sweden, Iran, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Malawi, Bolivia, Chile and Syria.
The Special Committee will continue its general debate at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 12 February.
LANG YABOU (Gambia), Vice-President of the General Assembly, speaking on behalf of its President, said peace and security form a pillar of the United Nations, with peacekeeping playing a critical role. Peacekeepers save lives, prevent conflict and encourage development. By sustaining peace, they are helping to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Ensuring that the peacekeeping mandate is practical and well funded is essential, as peacekeepers must be properly equipped to fully discharge their duties. As only 5 per cent of peacekeepers are women, he underlined the importance of including women in all areas of peacekeeping. Highlighting that operations maintain a strong emphasis on conflict prevention, he said peacekeeping efforts, partnering with regional actors, also address a range of related issues in their efforts to improve the situation on the ground.
ATUL KHARE, Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, said the current reforms are already having an effect. The new Department of Operational Support and the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance are committed to providing stronger, more specialized and integrated support in their respective areas. Mechanisms have been built into the reforms, embodying a collective approach. Peacekeeping is the Organization’s most financially significant activity, with more than 90 per cent of peacekeeping personnel serving in the field. Peacekeeping has also repeatedly proven its worth in terms of cost-effectiveness, efficiency and impact. Not only are United Nations peacekeepers the second-largest deployed force in the world, costing just half of 1 per cent of world military expenditures, they have helped to address conflict and contribute to sustainable peace in dozens of situations, most recently in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. However, fundamental challenges exist. The Special Committee’s focused attention on these challenges and opportunities is fundamental for the success of this joint endeavour, he said, encouraging delegates to ensure that the substantive session delivers constructive and forward-looking recommendations on how to make peacekeeping better, while considering the shared nature of responsibility for its success.
JAN BEAGLE, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, reviewed the role of her Department vis-à-vis peacekeeping in the context of the Secretary-General’s reforms, which aim to empower senior leadership and managers across the Secretariat, including in each field mission. Greater focus on results will require leadership that is principled, action-oriented, pragmatic, innovative and collaborative. The new Uniformed Capabilities Division will act as a single point of entry for support and reimbursement issues for both Member States and counterparts within the Secretariat.
Describing the financing of peacekeeping operations as a critical concern, she said the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance is committed to working ever more closely with senior leadership in the field to develop financing proposals that are strategic and realistic while enabling missions to deliver on their mandates. Reimbursements to troop- and police-contributing countries remain an absolute priority. She went on to underscore her Department’s role in peacekeeper conduct and discipline, a key concern for the Secretary-General, declaring that personnel who fail to uphold the highest standards of conduct will be held accountable. The Department will support the greater accountabilities of heads of missions and other entities through advice, support and guidance concerning strategy, policy and operations.
ALEXANDRE ZOUEV, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, said that, like the whole of the United Nations, this is a transformational movement for peacekeeping. Reforms are well under way with newly independent Resident Coordinators taking up ownership of their roles. Far-reaching management reforms will result in more effective and efficient field missions. Stressing that “peacekeeping is fundamentally a partnership”, he said the topics that the Special Committee will address this year go to the heart of peacekeeping, including safety and security, performance and accountability, and partnerships. Hopefully, the Special Committee will keep in mind the commitments enshrined in the Action for Peace Declaration of Shared Commitments for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations as it seeks to make progress in those important areas, he said.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, raised several concerns, first calling for a Special Committee-driven process to follow up on current reform initiatives. Noting that Non-Aligned Movement members comprise the top 10 police- and troop-contributing countries, he said these States engage considerable resources and should play a more active role. Gravely concerned about targeted attacks on United Nations staff, he called on all States hosting operations to promptly investigate, and on the Secretariat to ensure adequate measures are taken to improve the security infrastructure of camps. He called on the Security Council to strongly commit to drafting clear and achievable mandates in consultation with States of concern and troop- and police-contributing countries. “Boots on the ground are the guarantors of the successful implementation of mandates; their advice is required for any change in mandates,” he said, also proposing a series of measures regarding triangular cooperation.
He reiterated his support for a range of activities, while offering suggestions on how to foster improvements. Supporting the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse and exploitation, he said fighting against these crimes is a collective responsibility. In terms of mandates, peacekeeping operations should not be used as an alternative for addressing the root causes of conflicts, nor for managing them. The use of force predates discussions on effective peacekeeping, he said, stressing the need for further consultations with Member States on ways and means of protecting mission personnel and facilities from any safety breaches. On regional cooperation, he called for the United Nations to intensify support for African Union peace operations. On performance assessment, he said efforts should focus on the entire mission, and not on contingents. A contingent cannot be blamed for not having appropriate equipment if the United Nations does not include it in the Statement of Unit requirements, he said, encouraging further exchanges of view on this critical issue during the Special Committee’s session.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said peacekeeping remains an indispensable tool for the United Nations, which has made strides from Haiti to Liberia in saving lives, facilitating political processes and keeping the world at peace. With the trend of ongoing conflicts around the world showing no sign of declining, the United Nations must change the way it conducts peacekeeping operations. There is clear room for improvement, including ensuring the safety and security of peacekeepers, he said, commending the Secretary-General for his Action for Peacekeeping initiative. This initiative is not a silver bullet to all problems in peacekeeping, but, if exercised faithfully by key stakeholders, it can address some of the most pressing issues and challenges.
Offering several suggestions, he said reforms should enhance the political primacy of peacekeeping. Adequate resourcing is required to ensure a successful fulfilment of peacekeeping mandates. “We cannot continue demanding more and more from our peacekeepers while giving less and less,” he said, calling on Member States to fulfil their financial obligations in full and without conditions. Commitment in words must translate into action. Despite the broad scope of work for implementation, he said the Special Committee session and the forthcoming peacekeeping ministerial conference will be crucial to tackle the initial progress of work underscored by the Action for Peacekeeping Declaration. Providing a snapshot of ASEAN member States’ support, including 4,500 police, military advisers and troops involved in 12 United Nations missions, he said the Association remains committed to strengthening the work and quality of its peacekeepers with a view to contributing effectively to the maintenance of international peace and security.
MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada), speaking also for Australia and New Zealand, emphasized that the current session marks the first to incorporate the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, which offers important considerations for Special Committee deliberations. The session also offers an opportunity to strengthen African peacekeeping capacity and improve gains in performance, accountability, safety and security and to further increase a collective commitment to make progress on women, peace and security initiatives. Elaborating on those issues, he welcomed progress on the African Union human rights framework and efforts to increase the number of women deployed to missions. Welcoming the Secretariat’s integrated performance policy framework, he said improving performance depends on increasing operational capability and capacity. In that vein, it is necessary to look beyond traditional approaches that focus on single missions and examine innovative ways to provide critical capabilities, such as procuring aircraft that can be shared across multiple missions.
Above all, improving performance hinges on providing adequate support to peacekeepers, he continued. To fill gaps in national capacity for training, Member States must work together, with a light coordination mechanism being an invaluable tool to foster improvements. Moreover, hard lessons learned can provide guidance for future efforts; the implementation of the Vancouver Principles for the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers are an example of sharing best practices and training resources. On changes to the Department of Operational Support, he welcomed a renewed focus on meeting peacekeepers’ needs, including progress made in improving medical support. Noting that the Special Committee will be negotiating revisions on police participation, he remained encouraged about progress in the strategic guidance framework’s development and implementation, and the Security Council’s three resolutions recognizing the critical role of policing in the peacekeeping setting.
GUILLAUME DABOUIS, European Union delegation, underscoring the evolving nature of peacekeeping, stressed the paramount importance of political solutions to conflicts, addressing root causes and drivers of conflict, and giving priority to prevention. Emphasizing that even the most successful peace operations cannot replace dialogue, he said that support for political processes remains a core task for peace operations. Prevention and mediation must be the priority and only an integrated approach can lead to truly sustained peace. On the safety and security of United Nations personnel, he called for better incorporation of modern technology and peacekeeping intelligence capabilities. Underscoring the European Union’s commitment to the women, peace and security agenda, and welcoming the Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy 2018-2028, he said important challenges remain to be tackled for their implementation. Youth must be recognized as positive contributors to conflict prevention and peacekeeping, and child protection advisers must continue to be deployed, he said, expressing strong support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse and emphasizing the need for pre-deployment and in-mission training on gender and human rights components.
He encouraged the Secretariat to develop robust and objective methodologies, based on clear and well-identified benchmarks, to measure and monitor the performance of peacekeeping missions. At the same time, mission mandates must be underpinned with appropriate conflict analysis to set priorities and objectives from the outset, including military and police assessments of the implications of agreed peacekeeping budgets. Clear, coherent and achievable peacekeeping mandates must include a strong human rights component, with transition arrangements and exit strategies explored early on. The Secretariat must also drive forward a more comprehensive capabilities and performance framework, in line with Security Council resolution 2436 (2018) and improve command and control structures. He went on to stress the importance of reducing the overall environmental footprint of peacekeeping operations, emphasizing their direct impact on the health, safety and security of local communities. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s emphasis on partnership between the United Nations and European Union as a key to global peace and security, he said the bloc continues to advocate for a better definition of the role of regional organizations within United Nations-led interventions, facilitating, where appropriate, rapid deployment as a complement to the Organization’s operations.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the impact of caveats on performance is widely acknowledged, including in the recent report of the Board of Auditors (document A73/5 (Vol. II). Such caveats are unfair, leading to peacekeepers in the same operation being treated and assessed differently. “We need to develop a culture of no national caveats in the service of the United Nations,” he stated. Emphasizing that under-resourced missions undermine the credibility of United Nations peacekeeping, he said it would be useful for the views of troop- and police-contributing countries on mandate implementation to be reflected in the Secretary-General’s reports. He added that the practice of delaying payments to troop- and police-contributing countries, even as contractual obligations to others are met, cannot keep going unaddressed. In some cases, contributor countries are owed 100 to 200 times their cumulative annual financial contributions to the Organization. It is also time to resolve the issue of pending arrears of closed peacekeeping missions. On women peacekeepers, he called for more incentives to encourage their greater participation.
ALEJANDRO GUILLERMO VERDIER (Argentina), stressing that peacekeeping mandates must be adapted to the specific contexts of each operation, said there is a growing trend towards demanding greater performance from missions deployed in dangerous environments while, at the same time, attempts are being made to freeze or cut budgets. He called for flexible missions with clear mandates and sufficiently advanced planning, with priorities set out at the outset in consultation with troop- and police-contributing countries alongside the necessary financial resources. Addressing various topics raised in the Secretary-General’s report, he stressed, regarding the security of peacekeeping missions, the vital importance of listening to the opinions of personnel on the ground. He encouraged the Secretary-General to keep consulting with Member States on the implementation of reforms of the Organization’s peace and security pillar, including the removal of obstacles that impede the greater participation of women in peace operations.
JUAN SANDOVAL MEDIOLEA (Mexico) said peacekeepers continue to make sacrifices for international peace and security. However, the United Nations and the conditions under which it is called upon to do its work has changed, as the nature of conflicts has changed. In this regard, sustainable peace is essential, he said, noting that several General Assembly and Security Council resolutions underscore this need. Peace operations must address political and security issues, with clearly defined mandates. Efforts must also focus on enabling the Organization to better react to emerging challenges. Supporting stability and continuity in peacekeeping missions is essential, with a view to establishing peace in the long term. In addition, adequate equipment and training must be provided, he said, noting Mexico’s efforts as a signatory of the Vancouver Principles to prevent the recruitment and use of child soldiers. Providing a snapshot of Mexico’s role in peacekeeping operations, including in Mali and Western Sahara, he said efforts were ongoing to boost women’s involvement.
MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) said attacks against the “Blue Helmets” shed light on an urgent need for coordinated efforts by all actors to ensure proper training, equipment and logistical support. Capacity gaps undermine a mission’s ability to fulfil its mandate and make peacekeepers vulnerable to attacks. Troops should not be deployed without training tailored for the environment in which they operate, he said, welcoming the growing number of troops being deployed through the peacekeeping capacity readiness system and efforts to implement the Brazilian General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz report “Improving Security of United Nations Peacekeepers”. Noting Brazil’s long history of contributions, he said training is instrumental in enhancing performance. Improvements in mission effectiveness cannot only be pursued through military and operational approaches. Quick-impact projects can also generate support for military and police components of missions, he said, citing Brazil’s experience in Haiti as a tangible example. Emphasizing a need for clear, realistic mandates, he said the Security Council must hold close consultations with police- and troop-contributing countries and interact with mission heads to get first-hand accounts of the challenges they face. While deploying a peacekeeping mission is always a measure of last resort, every mission should have a strong political and peacebuilding component, he said, expressing hope the Special Committee will include in its report the recognition of the nexus between peacekeeping and peacebuilding. The Special Committee must also assume its special responsibility in ensuring that the United Nations has the requisite tools to prevent and punish sexual exploitation and abuse.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said peacekeepers demonstrate that their response in hostile situations does not constrain the use of force. However, the fundamentals of peacekeeping must be preserved, she said, noting Pakistan’s contributions. The Special Committee must play its role in building norms and making recommendations. Deployment decisions must be based on knowledge of the situation on the ground, in consultation with the troop-contributing countries, she said, adding that Pakistan and the United Kingdom had drafted recommendations in this regard. Yet, cost-cutting exercises must not overlook the fact that peacekeeping is itself cost-effective, deserving of adequate financial and material resources with effective reviews and assessments. In this vein, troop-contributing countries must be more involved in related peacekeeping processes. Peacekeeping works best when there is a peace to keep, with a robust political track that enhances efforts. However, doing more with less is not sustainable and missions must be adequately equipped. For its part, Pakistan is fulfilling its goals, including that women comprise 15 per cent of deployed personnel.
HIROYUKI NAMAZU (Japan) commended the Secretariat’s efforts to strengthen the capabilities of troop- and police-contributing countries in such medical-related areas as first aid, advanced trauma life support, casualty evaluation and hospital standards. He also underscored the important role played by engineers in overcoming difficulties with host-country infrastructure and in dealing with improvised explosive devices in places like Mali. Japan is ready to further act jointly with the Organization and other Member States to improve the medical and engineering capabilities of troop-contributing countries through financial contributions and knowledge-sharing, he said, noting his country’s leading chairmanship of the panel that is revising the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions Military Engineer Unit Manual.
WU HAITAO (China), expressing support for the Action for Peace initiative, said peacekeeping must abide by the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. Political solutions must be the fundamental objective of peacekeeping operations. Mandates must be clear and focused and include political efforts. He stressed the need to improve the management of peacekeeping operations with the Secretariat optimizing logistical mechanisms. Greater attention must also be given to the safety and security of peacekeepers, including through enhanced early warning and response capabilities. Noting that China is the second-largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget, as well as a major troop- and police-contributing country, he pointed to his country’s establishment of an 8,000-strong standby peacekeeping force, as well as the help it is giving to the African Union to strengthen its peacekeeping capabilities.
ANNE GUEGUEN (France), associating herself with the European Union, said it is time to move from words to action through the adoption of a performance-oriented approach and a solidarity mindset. Peacekeepers must get the best possible training and enjoy access to the best intelligence and data-collection technology. Capacity gaps must be tackled, and women must play their full role. Stressing the need to recognize when a mission’s leadership or contingent is not up to the task, she said Member States must ensure the highest standards of conduct of peacekeepers, and the zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse must be implemented robustly. Conversely, those individuals and units that exceed expectation must be properly recognized. In this time of climate change, the United Nations and Member States must set an example by reducing the environmental impact of peacekeeping missions. She went on to highlight the role of cooperation, including with the African Union, and the need to consider the francophone dimension in peacekeeping operations.
MONA JUUL (Norway), pledging her country’s contribution of military transport aircraft to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), underlined priority areas for the Special Committee’s negotiations. Among areas requiring urgent attention are the restructured role of the United Nations in enabling a more strategic and regionally coordinated response and the comprehensive performance assessment system’s efforts to strengthen operational effectiveness. Gender parity for uniformed personnel is also a key priority for her delegation, which strongly supports the Organization’s new strategy in this regard. Equally concerning is the safety and security of peacekeepers, with the recent attacks on MINUSMA being a stark reminder of the need for continued implementation of the action plan based on the Santos Cruz report. To address the threat of terrorism in some areas and its frequent link to transnational organized crime, efforts must continue to strengthen the capacity of United Nations Police and other rule-of-law personnel to enhance national police and justice systems. As a strong supporter of ongoing United Nations efforts to strengthen its partnership with the African Union, she said stability on the continent will benefit most countries present at today’s meeting. She urged all parties involved in discussions on United Nations-assessed contributions to finance peace support operations led by the African Union to engage constructively in finding a solution to pressing challenges.
NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal), outlining his country’s place as the fifth largest police- and troop-contributing State in the world, highlighted positive changes in the peacekeeping arena. “These 70 years have also shown, time and again, that peacekeeping works,” he said. “The Blue Helmet is a symbol of hope to millions of people.” Further examples include success in Liberia, the Secretary-General’s new Action for Peacekeeping initiative and well-deserved attention paid to peacekeepers’ safety and security. While peace missions cannot substitute an inclusive and nationally owned conflict-resolution method, he said the root causes of conflict should be addressed through a participatory political settlement, with prevention strategies integrated into national development plans. Clear mandates are also essential, involving sustained, focused and meaningful dialogue between the Security Council, the Secretariat and the police- and troop-contributing countries. Gravely concerned about threats to peacekeepers, he suggested a new mechanism to provide timely support and reinforcement as needed. Ensuring their safety can improve their morale for performing effectively, he said, urging the United Nations and host countries to bring perpetrators of targeted attacks on missions to justice. Among their duties, peacekeepers should win the trust and confidence of the civilians they are mandated to protect. Involving women is essential, he said, pointing out that Nepal has maintained mission forces comprising more than 15 per cent female personnel. Regarding concerns about sexual exploitation and abuse, Nepal has incorporated all United Nations policies into pre-deployment training.
SAPENAFA KESONI MOTUFAGA (Fiji), noting his country’s deployment of 20,000 troops to various missions and $10 million in annual contributions, said adequately equipped peacekeepers can fulfil their mandate, but when they do perform poorly, lives are lost, human development regresses and politics and development fail the communities they aim to help. A good mission is about broadening spaces that make politics work, involving thousands of peacekeepers interacting with people who need their protection. As a troop-contributing country, Fiji has an obligation to do more to improve performance and discharge duties, among them fostering the “soft skills” men and women bring to missions that focus on understanding cultures and values, seeing how women and children become disadvantaged in conflict, and interpreting signs of individual and group stress early. “When communities strike a positive rapport with peacekeepers, it contributes immensely to improving dialogue and prospects of reconciliation,” he said. For this reason, women’s involvement is crucial. Equally critical are the tools peacekeepers use under challenging circumstances as they operate in communities, giving comfort and protection. They are also aware that when humanitarian support is captured and when the human rights of those they protect are violated, inch by inch the chances of peace are destroyed. For its part, Nepal continues to work with bilateral partners to strengthen peacekeeping capabilities, preparedness, skills and overall performance.
KIRA CHRISTIANNE D. AZUCENA (Philippines), noting that United Nations peacekeepers are “always outnumbered, ever outgunned” when they deploy in dangerous environments, said her country is more than ever committed to investing in peace, contributing personnel to United Nations missions regardless of the security threat level. On performance, she said success must be measured by the mandate to protect civilians, with child protection and combatting sexual exploitation and abuse being key elements. Pre-deployment training must be tailored to meet the country-specific and context-specific challenges of protecting civilians, she said, commending the Department of Peace Operations for setting out a clear framework of performance standards and assessments. She went on to emphasize the need to ensure the safety of peacekeepers, the contribution to be made by women and youth, and the value of partnerships. She also called for greater investment in local political solutions to conflicts, saying that people in conflict situations must feel they own the peace that the United Nations is merely helping to bring about.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, and observing that his country takes a “value-driven approach” to peacekeeping, said the role of the Special Committee in ensuring a healthy debate on all aspects of peacekeeping cannot be overemphasized. The triangular relationship between troop- and police-contributing countries, the Security Council and the Secretariat must be strengthened, with missions given clear, realistic and achievable mandates. Fair representation of troop- and police-contributing countries must be ensured when mandates are set. Calling for improved safety and security for peacekeepers, he said those Member States which can provide specialized equipment and training must come forward. While it supports the creation of an integrated performance evaluation framework, Bangladesh believes that alleged performance failures should not be grounds for cost-cutting and force reduction. Efforts to grow the number of female peacekeepers must be redoubled, while new and innovative ways of limiting the environmental footprint of peacekeeping missions must be found.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said that despite improvements over the past year, it is extremely concerning that targeted attacks on United Nations peacekeepers are continuing. Peacekeepers must be given the right tools to protect both themselves and vulnerable citizens. They must also have all the resources they need to carry out their mandates. “Financial efficiencies do not always equate with operational effectiveness,” she said, emphasizing that saving lives must always be ranked above saving money. Stressing the importance of coordinating with regional partners and empowering local stakeholders, she said effective African-led peacekeeping operations can significantly contribute to global peace and security. Pressing issues related to the financing of African Union peace operations must be resolved. On best practices and training, she said that when identifying shortfalls, the Organization must learn from what it got right. On women peacekeepers, she said it is not enough to increase their numbers. Rather, their skills and training must be used to the fullest and their work must not be limited to gender issues.
JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE ARENALES (Guatemala), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said access to medical care is a fundamental right for all United Nations peacekeeping personnel. The Secretariat must guarantee that adequate medical installations are in place in all mission areas, before and during deployments. He urged the Secretariat to reject any deployment pledges from Member States that include caveats which, on the ground, limit the ability of force commanders to fulfil mandates. There must be a policy of no caveats. Stressing the need for civilian and military peacekeeping staff to uphold the highest standards of professionalism, he said performance must be linked to clear mandates from the Security Council, as well as to pre-deployment and on-the-ground training and the provision of adequate human and financial resources.
Mr. MBAMBO (South Africa) said the promotion of peace and security in Africa and the rest of the world is necessary, collaborative task. As a top-20 troop-contributing country, South Africa has proudly served the African Union and the United Nations in a collective pursuit of peace and supports the Secretary-General’s efforts to transform peacekeeping operations through partnership, sustainable services and tangible outcomes. Peacekeeping remains among the most effective tools at the Security Council’s disposal to stabilize countries in conflict and create a conducive environment for launching political processes. However, several concerns persist, he said, reiterating the African Union and United Nations High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations’ call for sustained, predictable and flexible funding mechanisms for African Union-led peace support operations. Attention must also focus on conducting sustained consultations during the formation of mandates and their assessments and reviews. Efforts must also ensure the safety and security of peacekeepers, with the United Nations adopting the use of smart technology to improve effective responses to armed attacks. Underlining the importance of including women in peacekeeping efforts, he said the African Union has placed gender mainstreaming as a critical requirement for its Silencing the Guns by 2020 initiative. For its part, South Africa is committed to a zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation in peace operations, having drafted related legislation and launched a paternity focal point initiative that contains the DNA of every deploying soldier.
HAM SANG WOOK (Republic of Korea) outlined the grave challenges facing peacekeepers, whose needs require focused, urgent attention. The Special Committee should, in this regard, work on concrete ways to move the Action on Peacekeeping initiative forward and consider how to take advantage of the forthcoming peacekeeping ministerial conference. The safety and security of peacekeepers must be enhanced, he said, noting that the Republic of Korea has hosted training courses for senior mission leaders and other personnel. The Special Committee should also consider engaging more with local communities, he said, reiterating a call for a shift to a people-centred approach to ensure the effective operations of missions in today’s changing security landscape. To advance on this issue, he proposed that the Secretariat share more evidence-based information with Member States on the value of civilian and military coordination activities to help raise awareness about the need for a common doctrine on local community engagement. Equally important is strengthening partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, including the African Union, which has been making significant progress on the continent.
CHRISTINE R. BAILEY (Jamaica) said Member States must tackle the increasingly multidimensional features of United Nations peacekeeping. Anticipating forthcoming briefings on reform activities to implement the Special Committee’s 2018 recommendations, she expressed confidence that these annual deliberations on all aspects of peacekeeping will be pursued in full support of the United Nations work in collaboration with all related actors. Noting the nexus between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, she provided details of developments in Haiti, highlighting the expiration on 15 April of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH) mandate and the need for an effective transition plan. For peacekeeping operations to be fruitful, from the outset they must be given political support and adequate human resources. Turning to gender parity in peacekeeping, she commended the Secretary-General and the Organization’s initiatives to increase the participation of uniformed women. On safety, she pointed out that while fatalities have decreased – to 95 in 2018 from 134 in 2017 – the changing nature of conflict has exposed peacekeepers to heightened security risks. As such, there is a need to focus on strengthening the resilience of missions and to implement the necessary measures to preserve the lives of peacekeepers. Raising another concern, she said Jamaica is fully supportive of the Organization’s zero-tolerance approach to all forms of misconduct.
LUIS HOMERO BERMÚDEZ ÁLVAREZ (Uruguay) said that, over the years, his country has contributed more than 45,000 troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions far from its borders. The Action for Peacekeeping initiative has made it possible to renew mutual political commitments to peace operations, he said, adding that the Special Committee should focus, going forward, on how Member States can make good on their commitments. One year after the Cruz report, the security of Blue Helmets remains a concern and while fatalities went down in 2018, peace operations still face security issues every day. National caveats, declared or – worse – undeclared, have undesired repercussions on the safety and security of peacekeepers and thus must never be accepted. Measuring performance is a sensitive issue that requires the ongoing involvement of Member States, he said, adding that the Special Committee must ensure that reforms lead to real improvements in peacekeeping.
ALEXANDRE PERREN (Switzerland) said the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, and more general reform of the peace and security pillar, underscore the importance of conflict prevention. Multidimensional peace operations are crucial for preventing the outbreak, escalation and recurrence of conflict. The safety of deployed military, police and civilian personnel is among the greatest challenges, as such operations face more complex and intense threats. States must take appropriate measures to minimize the risks to deployed personnel by improving pre-deployment training for security risks, with a curriculum reflecting a holistic approach to risk management and updated as often as necessary. He called for the strengthening of regional and local capacities, a priority area for Switzerland as it increases cooperation with regional organizations; better representation of women in all areas of peace operations; and continued efforts to fight sexual exploitation and abuse.
LAZARUS OMBAI AMAYO (Kenya), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that about 20 peacekeepers have been killed so far this year, with many others injured. Evidence suggests that some of the perpetrators have links to signatories to peace processes, yet no one had been held to account. “It is time that an accountability mechanism is put in place to ensure that those who commit such acts are brought to justice,” he said. While African Union-led peace operations are doing a commendable job, they suffer from insufficient support, he said, pointing out that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) is battling Al-Shabaab with limited logistics, enablers and force multipliers. What AMISOM is doing in Somalia is on behalf of the Security Council and it should, therefore, be adequately funded from assessed contributions. He called on the Council to work closely with regional organizations and troop- and police-contributing countries in drafting mandates and to ensure adequate mission resources.
ELAINE FRENCH (United States) said peacekeeping missions are becoming more effective and efficient. More remains to be done, however, to keep peacekeepers safe, to better protect civilians and to lay the political groundwork for missions to eventually transition and close. Emphasizing her country’s tireless efforts to promote a culture of performance within United Nations peacekeeping, she said Security Council resolution 2436 (2018) will make a difference in the ability of missions to effectively carry out their mandates. Peacekeeping missions must also have exit strategies and, in that regard, police have a critical role to play, as seen in Haiti and Liberia. The United States, therefore, supports better integration of police in all aspects of mission planning and empowering the Police Division to assess, plan, deploy, manage and support peacekeeping missions.
She went on to underscore the United States’ support for more women in meaningful peacekeeping roles, adding that her country will keep investing in those missions which save lives and create space for sustainable political solutions. “We will also remain committed to advancing reform that will deliver an increasingly strong return on that investment,” she said, adding that since 2005, the United States has committed nearly $1.5 billion in peacekeeping capacity-building assistance to countries deploying to United Nations and regional peacekeeping operations, mostly in Africa.
CHUMPHOT NURAKKATE (Thailand), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said new ways and means must be found to narrow a widening gap in capabilities, knowledge, skills and attitudes among peacekeepers. In that regard, Thailand is committed to ensuring that its peacekeepers are properly prepared, trained and equipped. Thailand also has its sights set on becoming a regional centre of excellence on the issue of children and armed conflict. Stressing the connection between peace, sustainable development and respect for human rights, he said missions must act in close coordination with development agencies on the ground while respecting the principles of national ownership and State responsibility.
RAZIYE BILGE KOÇYIĞIT GRBA (Turkey) said peacekeeping has been constantly evolving, tailoring itself to meet new challenges since its inception. The Action for Peacekeeping initiative has been instrumental in fostering engagement and commitments, providing a road map to bolster operations. Future efforts must strengthen safety, provide adequate resources and training while partnering with regional actors, which builds trust. Highlighting the value of recent reports on peacekeeping, she said the United Nations should continue to make use of its relationships with regional organizations. Unfortunately, peacekeepers continue to be targeted by terrorist groups. As such, there is an urgent need to adapt to new and emerging threats. As a police- and troop-contributing country, Turkey is strongly committed to peacekeeping efforts, including providing contributions to training services. The Turkish Partnership for Peace Centre continues to be a focal point for stakeholders. Her delegation anticipated further efforts in, among other areas, promoting the increased involvement of women in peacekeeping activities.
MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt) said that over the last 70 years, peacekeeping methods have changed with the security environment. Such efforts aim at adapting to such changing circumstances, he said, citing several reports providing analyses and recommendations. The Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative and the Declaration on Shared Commitments have also attempted to reform the security architecture. For its part, Egypt has contributed to operations and to develop concepts of peacekeeping. Advances are needed in engineering, the medical sphere, training and the provision of predicable resources, particularly during the drawdown phase. Egypt is seeking to promote the Action for Peacekeeping initiative and has held related conferences. The Cairo Road Map includes a framework to honour joint commitments pertaining to the Secretary-General’s initiative, he said, providing examples of goals set out therein. Among them are the promotion of clear mandates and priorities and ensuring accountability of civilian and military peacekeepers.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), noting that his country hosts MINUSMA, said peacekeeping is facing several emerging challenges, including among other things the changing complexity of conflict, asymmetric attacks by terrorist groups and transnational organized crime. The Mission is deployed in a difficult environment and the death of one of its Blue Helmets is one too many. He reiterated his Government’s appeals for MINUSMA to be provided with the equipment it needs, as well as rules of engagement that are adapted to the situation in the country. Mali welcomes any initiative that would improve security, he said, warning, however, against undermining what has been achieved in the ongoing peace process, lest local populations feel abandoned.
RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador) said that to be truly effective, peacekeeping operations must have, from the outset, political support, adequate resources, and clearly defined and viable mandates. He expressed grave concern about the highly fragile security and political environments in which missions operate. Noting that El Salvador is a troop- and police-contributing country, he stressed the importance of improving coordination among all entities participating in peace operations. He acknowledged that the number of women El Salvador currently provides to United Nations peacekeeping missions – 10 in total - is low, but the Government will keep promoting their participation to ensure that a greater number are deployed. He went on to underscore the importance of briefings with troop- and police-contributing countries and called for those countries to be reimbursed without delay.
IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) said that peacekeepers and missions must do all they can when civilians are under threat. “Community security must remain among our priorities,” she said, with the monitoring, investigation and reporting of human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations being critical tasks. Peacekeeping missions should play a stronger role in protecting medical facilities and ensuring the safe delivery of medical care in armed conflicts. Sweden looks forward to a clear and comprehensive procedure on caveats which, when hidden from commanders in the field, put all peacekeepers at risk. She underscored the potential for major changes in command and control policy regarding military aviation and hoped that there will be permanent gender adviser positions in all mission headquarters.
MOHAMMAD REZA SAHRAEI (Iran), emphasizing that peacekeeping remains an important tool in the maintenance of peace and security, said it is critical to honour commitments to the principles of the non-use of force, non-intervention and respect for the sovereignty of States. Welcoming the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative, he said such efforts will enhance the effectiveness of United Nations missions. Noting that civilian protection is the primary responsibility of host countries, he said any military intervention of the United Nations or foreign forces must avoid over-stepping those boundaries. Similarly, improving the safety and security of peacekeepers and the use of new technologies must be discussed at an intergovernmental level. The role of regional arrangements in United Nations peacekeeping must also be clarified. Underlining the importance of the involvement of police- and troop-contributing countries in consultations regarding missions, he expressed support for ongoing efforts to bolster triangular dialogue among key players.
Mr. KRAVETS (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said the list of missed opportunities includes the hard security challenges which gave rise to the United Nations: inter-State conflict and military aggression. The Action for Peacekeeping initiative is exactly what the Organization needs. Underscoring that management reform must help the United Nations better deliver on its mandates, he said Ukraine is proud to have been part of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)’s success story and, as a peace-loving State, will widen the geography of its presence in global operations. However, the military aggression against Ukraine is a grim reminder that preventive diplomacy has not advanced into daily practice. Citing the Assembly’s passage of several resolutions calling on the Russian Federation to end its occupation of Ukraine’s territory, notably resolution 73/194 adopted in December, he urged delegates to participate in the 20 February debate on the matter. To make peacekeeping more efficient, strategic force generation must be an integral part of the reforms, as aviation assets and advanced intelligence are “very limited”. Mandates should be coherent and achievable, and tasks not limited to the security sphere, but rather able to provide a safe environment for elections processes. Dialogue among the Council, troop and police contributors and the Secretariat must also be strengthened, he said.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) associating himself with the European Union, said his country is proud to have been an early signatory to the Action for Peacekeeping Declaration. He urged all Member States of the Special Committee to focus this year on concrete, practical recommendations for driving forward implementation across the Action for Peacekeeping agenda. The United Kingdom has long held that peacekeeping performance and the safety of peacekeepers go hand in hand. Security Council resolution 2436 (2018) should be the basis for future efforts to strengthen performance and improve safety and security. Performance is also inextricably tied to training, both pre-deployment and in mission, and training in turn relies on solid partnerships. As both a troop-contributing country and a training partner of other countries, the United Kingdom hopes to see the prompt adoption of a light coordination mechanism to identify and address shortfalls in key capabilities. History has shown that peacekeepers cannot create peace where there is no political will to pursue it. “This must be a year of action: action that better equips peacekeepers to deliver their mandates,” he stressed.
LOT THAUZENI PANSIPADANA DZONZI (Malawi) associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that he agreed with the recommendations of the Action for Peacekeeping initiative report. “However, we are sceptical whether the recommendations will yield the much-needed results,” he added, expressing concern about lack of funding and resources. Malawi has provided troops, military observers, staff officers and police personnel to various United Nations missions. It subscribes to the recommendations outlined in the report as they have a direct impact on troop performance and security. Implementation will help to enhance performance and alleviate unnecessary security risks for Malawi’s troops. Malawi also agrees that the Security Council should engage more substantively with entities such as the Peacebuilding Commission and regional stakeholders. On gender, he expressed support for the ongoing inclusion of gender adviser posts within missions and at an appropriate level of seniority throughout mandating and budgetary processes. Malawi remains committed to gender equality and to reducing cases of sexual exploitation and abuse. It has taken serious steps to address such allegations and continues to provide mandatory training to all personnel deployed to various missions.
DOUGLAS VLADIMIR SEJAS CRESPO (Bolivia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that each peacekeeping mission must have the full consent and support of their respective host country. To be legitimate, they must also carry out the tasks for which they were established, adhere to the basic principles of peacekeeping, remain impartial and never be used as an intervention force. They must respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the States in which they are deployed. He stressed the need for a methodology to measure the performance and success of peacekeeping operations that would make it possible to better plan future missions with a focus on accountability. Cooperation with regional and subregional partners must be further institutionalized, he said, emphasizing also the importance of implementing the women, peace and security agenda.
LEYLA VÁSQUEZ (Chile) said peacekeeping is an essential part of the United Nations work, reflecting the implementation of multilateral action and global cooperation. As such, assessments must consider the needs on the ground. Commending the increased involvement of women, she also highlighted a link between peace and development. Emphasizing the importance of capacity-building, she said it was essential to provide missions with all the requirements for them to fully discharge their mandates.
MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria) said peacekeeping operations are among a range of tools available to the United Nations. Raising several concerns, he said the United Nations Charter focuses on the sovereignty of States, meaning that peacekeeping operations must fully respect these principles. There must also be a consistent application of guidelines, including the non-use of force and prior consent. For its part, Syria has made all efforts to improve and develop strategies and concepts regarding peacekeeping operations, he said, noting that the Special Committee remains the appropriate forum for these discussions. On civilian protection, he said the primary responsibility for this rests on the host country and a mission should not overlook this, nor should it ever violate the sovereignty of the country. Further, there must be a clear, legal definition of civilian protection among the parties. Concerning the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), Syria has contributed to the mission. Unfortunately, missions located in the Middle East have been in force for many, many years because Israel continues to occupy Arab lands, draining the United Nations energy and resources. Turning to targeted attacks against the Blue Helmets, he said such developments are challenging peacekeeping on the ground, including in the Golan.