Frank Dialogue Due on Peacekeeping’s Future amid Evolving Threats, Growing Pressure, Top Officials Tell Special Committee as General Debate Begins
The time had come for the United Nations, its Member States and other partners to engage in a frank discussion on the future of peacekeeping in response to ever-changing threats and challenges in some of the world’s most hostile environments, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations heard today as it opened its 2018 substantive session.
David Haeri, Director of the Division of Policy, Evaluation and Training of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, delivering a statement on behalf of Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said the Secretary-General’s vision for peacekeeping reform would reshape the Organization’s structures and working culture to better meet today’s complex threats to peace and security.
“It is time for a frank conversation, one that addresses the fact that peacekeeping is coming under considerable pressure,” he said, explaining that the Secretary-General wanted to renew a dialogue that would enable the Secretariat, uniformed contributors, host States, regional partners and legislative bodies to speak — candidly and in real terms — about what peacekeeping was, what it did and what it meant for those who benefited from the protection it offered.
Rick Martin, Director of the Department of Field Support’s Field Budget and Finance Division, speaking on behalf of Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, said support to the field must be more rapid and responsible. While the overarching reform process continued, the Department remained committed to meeting the daily needs of peacekeepers — with strengthened cooperation with Member States being central to that aim.
With a record 56 fatalities among Blue Helmets in 2017, and another 12 killed so far this year, he said the safety and security of the 110,000 peacekeepers deployed in 15 missions was a top priority. He also urged the United Nations to work with Member States to better address sexual exploitation and abuse.
Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, underscoring the need for a stronger focus on conflict prevention in peace operations, declared: “The United Nations was created to save people from the horrors of war, not to react once those horrors are in motion.” He appealed for a more inclusive approach to peacekeeping in general, including by bolstering the use of gender advisers and the deployment of women. Despite recent strides in that regard, “when it comes to gender, peacekeeping is in a bad state,” he stated.
Calling for frank discussions as well as “proactive steps towards a new reality”, he said more inclusiveness would also mean ensuring more participation and more partnerships with actors outside United Nations missions. Turning to the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse, he stressed that “we will not eradicate the problem merely by talking about it” and that zero tolerance must be reflected in actions, not words.
In the ensuing debate, delegates focused among other things on the safety and security of peacekeepers. Several cited a recent in-depth review of Blue Helmet fatalities by Lieutenant General (Retired) Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil) and a subsequent action plan drawn up by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Field Support.
Morocco’s delegate, speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, said peacekeeping operations should not be an alternative to dealing with the root causes of conflict or for managing the conflict itself. Development tools should achieve a smooth transition to lasting peace, he said, adding that exit strategies must be agreed upon at the early stages of mission planning.
The representative of New Zealand, speaking also on behalf of Australia and Canada, said the days of peacekeeping operations being conducted by unarmed observers monitoring a peace agreement were largely over. The mindset, basic military skills and leadership must evolve as the operating environment of peacekeeping changed. To implement Lieutenant General Cruz’s report, to make a practical difference and to save the lives of peacekeepers would take determination, energy and courage, he said.
South Africa’s delegate voiced support for more “realistic, tailored and flexible mandates”, citing the deployment of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (MONUSCO) intervention brigade as a credible example. He also called for increased consultation between troop- and police-contributing countries, the Secretariat and the Security Council, as well as stronger interaction with regional organizations such as the African Union.
The representative of the Philippines said it was United Nations peacekeeping operations — the least adequately funded and wisely planned of the Organization — that truly gave people on the ground a taste of peace. “Always outnumbered, ever outgunned, UN peacekeepers walk into danger, not with camouflaged headgear of stealth but with easy-to-see helmets of blue,” he said, emphasizing also the need to establish clear and credible mandates combined with adequate resources.
The representative of the United States called on the Special Committee to take bold steps towards institutionalizing a culture of performance in which only the highest-performing troops and police were deployed to United Nations missions. If a mission’s forces were unable or unwilling to fulfil their mandate, the force generation system must be relied upon to find other contributors who were able to execute the mandate, she said.
Pakistan’s delegate said a lack of adequate resources inevitably led to non-implementation of mandates. “We should be talking about enhancing capabilities, not across-the-board cuts in the peacekeeping budget,” she said, adding that it was time to take stock of troop and equipment pledges in the light of remaining capability gaps.
At the outset, the Special Committee elected by acclamation Tijjani Muhammad Bande (Nigeria) as Chair and as Vice-Chairs Gabriela Martinic (Argentina), Michael Grant (Canada), Takeshi Akahori (Japan) and Mariusz Lewicki (Poland), and Mohammad Helmy Ahmad Aboulwafa (Egypt) as Rapporteur. It was decided that Mr. Grant would serve as Chair of a Working Group of the Whole to consider the Special Committee’s work and submit its recommendations for inclusion in the entity’s report to the General Assembly. The Special Committee also approved its programme of work for the session.
Also speaking today were representatives of Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Brazil, China, Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Russian Federation, Egypt, India, Japan, Costa Rica, Turkey, Ecuador, Venezuela, Indonesia (in its national capacity), Thailand, Myanmar, Ukraine, Guatemala, Syria, Israel and France, as well as the European Union.
The Special Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 13 February, to continue its session.
MIROSLAV LAJČÁK (Slovakia), underscoring the need for a stronger focus on conflict prevention in peace operations, declared: “The United Nations was created to save people from the horrors of war, not to react once those horrors are in motion.” However, more conflict prevention did not necessarily mean less peacekeeping. While in some cases it could avoid the deployment of military actions, in others it could mean sending “Blue Helmets” into less hostile environments. Conflict prevention and peacekeeping did not have to be distinct or separate entities, as peacekeepers played a critical role in prevention activities across the United Nations system, working closely with national actors and flagging early warning signs of conflict.
Prevention was already a part of the Organization’s peacekeeping efforts, he said, citing the United Nations Mission in Liberia’s (UNMIL) work in the runup to that country’s elections in 2017. UNMIL had helped to calm tensions and prevent an upsurge in violence, while also assisting in Liberia’s peaceful power transition. Pointing to work in the Abyei region on the border of Sudan and South Sudan — where peacekeepers had worked in innovative ways to retain stability and avoid conflict — as another successful example, he urged a stronger focus on prevention in all missions. In addition, a more inclusive approach was needed to peacekeeping in general, including by bolstering the use of gender advisors and the deployment of women. Despite recent strides in that regard, “when it comes to gender, peacekeeping is in a bad state”.
Calling for frank discussions on that issue, as well as “proactive steps towards a new reality”, he said more inclusiveness would also mean ensuring more participation and more partnerships with actors outside United Nations missions. Those included regular liaisons with country teams, region and subregional organizations — especially in Africa — and deeper engagement with civil society, local communities and young people. Those relationships would help peacekeepers build trust among the people they were sent to protect, he said. Turning to the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse, he stressed that “we will not eradicate the problem merely by talking about it”. Protectors must protect, never rape, abuse or exploit; if they did, they must not get away with it. While some steps had been taken, more should be done by both the United Nations and national Governments. Zero tolerance must be reflected in actions, not words.
Turning finally to the risk faced by peacekeepers themselves, he said United Nations troops were increasingly threatened by the bombs and bullets of non-State and terrorist groups, with over 300 peacekeepers having died in the last five years from such deliberate attacks. The technical issues managed by those gathered in the room today — ranging from intelligence to ordinance disposal to command and control — were not only crucial to the effectiveness of United Nations missions, but could also mean the difference between life and death for their personnel.
DAVID HAERI, Director, Division of Policy, Evaluation and Training, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, delivering a statement on behalf of Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said the Secretary-General’s vision for peacekeeping reform would reshape the Organization’s structures and working culture in order to better meet today’s complex threats to peace and security. “It is time for a frank conversation, one that addresses the fact that peacekeeping is coming under considerable pressure,” he said, explaining that the Secretary-General wanted to renew a dialogue that would enable the Secretariat, uniformed contributors, host States, regional partners and legislative bodies to speak — candidly and in real terms — about what peacekeeping was, what it did and what it meant for those who benefited from the protection it offered.
Peacekeeping was a shared responsibility that required clear and actionable mandates, consistent political engagement, sufficient resources, strong human capital and durable consent from parties to a conflict, he said. Member States must help in that regard, he said, adding that the Secretariat must also commit to quality of leadership, better performance, clear-sighted analysis, candid reporting, streamlined bureaucracy, concrete accountability and better support to uniformed contributors. The Special Committee would this year be addressing those concerns, which went to the heart of the Secretary-General’s agenda, including strengthening operational capacities, protection of civilians, and safety and security.
RICK MARTIN, Director of the Field Budget and Finance Division, Department of Field Support, speaking on behalf of Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare, said reform of the peace and security architecture continued, while the Secretary-General’s management and development reforms were also making considerable headway. Support to the field must be more rapid and responsible, with less fragmented management structures and more transparency and accountability. Even while the overarching reform process continued, the Department of Field Support remained committed to meeting the daily needs of peacekeepers. Central to that was ensuring strengthened cooperation with Member States.
Among the top priorities was the safety and security of peacekeepers, he said, in order for them to better secure and protect the populations they served. Greater effectiveness was the best way to honour the sacrifices made by the 110,000 peacekeepers working in dangerous environments in 15 missions. Too many had already paid the ultimate price, including 12 peacekeepers thus far in 2018. He urged the United Nations to work with Member States to better address sexual exploitation and abuse.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco), speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, said an important process to strengthen the security of peacekeepers was currently ongoing. He took note of the “Improving Security of United Nations Peacekeepers: We need to change the way we are doing business” report, an in-depth review of peacekeeping fatalities and injuries due to hostile acts carried out by Lieutenant General (Retired) Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil), and the subsequent plan of action presented to the Special Committee on 22 January. Recent developments were to be discussed in the coming weeks in a constructive manner. A more active role of the Non-Aligned Movement was necessary and legitimate. He noted that the establishment of any peacekeeping operation should observe the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, and the precepts of sovereign equality and territorial integrity should be respected. The Security Council should draft achievable mandates for troop-contributing countries, based on assessment, and not rush to adopt mandates that were not feasible.
The Peacebuilding Commission and its country-specific configurations had a significant role in better integrating peacekeeping and peacebuilding with capacity-building based on national ownership. Peacekeeping operations should not be an alternative to dealing with the root causes of conflict or for managing the conflict itself. Development tools should achieve a smooth transition to lasting peace. An exit strategy must be agreed upon at the early stages of mission planning.
INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the United Nations needed to change the way it did business in order to improve the safety and security of peacekeepers. Enhancing mission capability and support was essential. ASEAN encouraged early engagement and inclusive consultations between the Security Council, the Secretariat, troop- and police-contributing countries and regional actors in drafting, reviewing and adjusting mandates. The credibility and impartiality of Blue Helmets must not be compromised, she said, adding that ASEAN agreed with the Secretary-General’s view that peacekeeping operations should not engage in counter-terrorism.
ASEAN supported the deployment of more women peacekeepers, which among other things would help better address the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse, she said. Further mechanisms to improve the capabilities of peacekeepers should be promoted. She drew attention to collaboration between ASEAN and the United Nations in peacekeeping and peacebuilding, including pre-deployment training facilities in ASEAN countries, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus Expert Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations, and the participation of 4,500 police personnel, military advisers and troops from ASEAN countries in 12 United Nations peacekeeping missions.
RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said all peacekeeping operations should strictly observe the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter. From the outset, they should have political support, sufficient resources, and clearly defined and viable mandates. Expressing grave concern over the highly fragile political and security environments in which peacekeeping missions operated, he said peacekeeping operations should always be accompanied by a parallel and inclusive peace process, supported by the parties concerned. There must also be clear exit strategies, he said, reiterating CELAC’s support to the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH).
He emphasized the importance of strengthening coordination between peacekeeping operations, the Peacebuilding Commission and the United Nations development system, as well as the indispensable role of women and youth. The legitimate need to protect civilians should not be used to override State sovereignty. All actors involved in the establishment and implementation of peacekeeping mandates must agree on those mandates and rules of engagement. He expressed concern about the Secretariat’s implementation of different policies in specific missions without the prior agreement of the Special Committee, and requested that the Security Council improve consultations with troop- and police-contributing countries. He stressed the need to timely and efficiently reimburse those countries and to take into account the principle of equitable geographic distribution in staffing, in particular at the expert and senior leadership levels.
CRAIG JOHN HAWKE (New Zealand), also speaking on behalf of Canada and Australia, said that while it was primarily the responsibility of host Governments to protect their civilians, when States were unable or unwilling to do so, and where a civilian protection mandate existed, peacekeepers were obligated to protect the most vulnerable. He welcomed the progress made by the Secretariat and troop- and police-contributing countries to strengthen the implementation of protection of civilian mandates through improved pre-deployment training and the better equipping of peacekeepers. Those mandates were a whole-of-mission responsibility, and as such he would like to see further action taken to improve standards and introduce clear benchmarks with regard to training, leadership and performance across all Mission areas.
He supported the findings and recommendations of the Cruz report, and applauded the Secretariat for openly and transparently releasing it in full, as well as for proactively developing an action plan with an aggressive timeline to implement the recommendations. There were no startling surprises in the report. The days of peacekeeping operations being conducted by unarmed observers monitoring a peace agreement were largely over. The mindset, basic military skills and leadership must evolve as the operating environment of peacekeeping changed. To implement the report, make a practical difference and save the lives of peacekeepers would take determination, energy and courage.
JOANNE ADAMSON, speaking on behalf of the European Union, drew attention to the demanding conditions in which peacekeepers carried out their work and voiced support for measures aimed at improving their safety. Welcoming the Cruz report on improving peacekeeper security, as well as the DPKO/Department of Field Support Action Plan, he said peacekeeping was evolving to become more proactive and multidimensional. The recent United Nations peacekeeping reviews had considered the changing nature of conflict, as well as the increased agility demanded of peacekeepers. While supporting such far-reaching proposals, she expressed hope that the Committee would come together in supporting the Secretariat to ensure better crisis management, enhanced working methods, and stronger leadership, accountability and transparency.
Underlining the importance of political solutions, prevention and efforts to address the causes and drivers of conflict, she said the latter was a central plank of the European Union Global Strategy for Common Security and Defence Policy. Prevention and mediation must also be the priority in United Nations peacekeeping, she stressed, supporting the Secretary-General’s own emphasis on those critical elements. “The protection of civilians and the prevention of atrocities must be the common denominator of any peacekeeping operation’s mandate,” she said, describing the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians as a useful orientation in that context. There, too, local ownership would be critical, as would strategic reviews of protection mandates. In addition, she voiced support for initiatives to advance the women, peace and security agenda; strengthen police, justice and corrections institutions; better tailor operations to ground conditions; achieve adequate force generation and rapid deployment; protect children; ensure the deployment of pledged capabilities; and explore innovative funding solutions.
MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), associating himself with CELAC, said that the C34 was an essential and unique venue for discussions on peacekeeping. He wished to see its capacity to formulate policy reinforced and reaffirmed. He appreciated the transparency that had marked discussion of the Cruz report on improving the security of United Nations peacekeepers. It was crucial that the report’s recommendations were discussed and translated into a concrete action plan in order to reduce peacekeeper fatalities. The needs of the missions should be looked at and the issue of casualties could not be seen in isolation, but rather was related to the political situations of each mission. He welcomed the report’s focus on the need to provide adequate resources and training to peacekeepers, in particular specialized training for specific threats.
WU HAITAO (China) said that the deployment environment of peacekeeping operations was increasingly complex and the peacekeeping system needed to develop with the times. He welcomed the Cruz report as well as the Secretary-General’s reviews of peacekeeping missions. China was ready to work with other Member States to actively consider the issues and further promote the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations through reform. Sovereignty should be respected, and concerned countries should be helped to realize peace and stability. Political solutions for hotspot issues should be actively promoted, as the aim of peacekeeping operations was to create sustainable peaceful environments. As a troop- contributing country, China had also dispatched its first ever helicopter squad to a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Africa.
MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VELEZ (Colombia) said the chronic deficit of women in peace operations must be tackled. Women’s participation must be increased at all levels of conflict prevention, management and resolution. She emphasized the value of individual experiences in the field in achieving better results, as there was no one-size-fits-all solution to all circumstances. She went on to underscore the importance of cooperation with regional organizations, as well as giving a greater role to the Peacebuilding Commission.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORÍTAN (Argentina), associating himself with CELAC, said there was a growing trend on the part of the Security Council to establish peacekeeping missions in places where there was no peace to keep. In recent years, the main challenge had been to adapt missions to new phenomena, such as international terrorism. It was crucial that all Member States clearly understood the implications of protecting civilians. Given the sensitivity of that issue, Secretariat polices must be discussed with Member States and reviewed by the Special Committee.
LUIS HOMERO BERMÚDEZ ÁLVAREZ (Uruguay), associating himself with CELAC, said his country had deployed more than 45,000 troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to review peacekeepers’ security, as well as the report on that topic, which offered a good starting point for discussions among Member States. Its recommendations warranted the Committee’s consideration. On the protection of civilians, differences persisted between what Member States expected and what peacekeeping operations could offer. Civilian protection was a central task of peacekeeping, with mission mandates now giving greater priority to that matter. However, such protection was not always reflected in the allocation of human and financial resources, he said, recalling occasions where more could have been done to protect civilians.
ALEXANDER A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said that peacekeeping was central to supporting statehood building during the initial post-crisis stage. Noting that peacekeepers were deployed during domestic political crises, he cited such other threats as the spread of weapons, organized crime and drug trafficking. Reform must be ongoing and transparent in nature, and any proposals must be implemented with the consent of Member States and consider both their assessments of the situations and their concerns. The Special Committee was the best platform for members of the Security Council, troop-contributing countries and host States to discuss the range of peacekeeping issues, efforts that should guide the Secretariat and field missions. It was unacceptable for peacekeepers to become aggressors or participants in a conflict, especially while protecting civilians, he said, drawing attention to other methods that did not create further threats to populations or the Blue Helmets themselves.
MOHAMED OMAR MOHAMED GAD (Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said peacekeeping operations were tools for creating an environment conducive to the political resolution of conflicts. They should not be seen as alternatives to addressing the root causes of conflict. Exit strategies should be laid down in the early stages of establishing peacekeeping mandates, he said, adding that consultation with relevant parties and communities were the first guarantee of the safety and security of peacekeepers. Attempts to expand the scope of peacekeeping missions without the consent of host Governments would threaten the Organization’s credibility, he said, adding that politicization must be avoided in the selection of troop-contributing countries.
SYED AKBARUDDIN (India), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the strategic context in which the United Nations was keeping peace was “fast changing”. The number of casualties among peacekeepers was growing, no major political breakthroughs were in sight, concerns about gender sensitivity and sexual exploitation and abuse persisted, and consultations with troop contributors prior to decision-making remained distant. Such challenges stemmed from systemic shortcomings: unclear mandates, mismatched resources and a lack of focus on political solutions. Warning that robust peacekeeping approaches paired with scant investment in conflict resolution amounted to “arming without aiming”, he said expanded mandates made tasks more complex and brought serious inherent risks, as well as less-than-certain outcomes. As a major troop and police contributor, India agreed that “politics is the best force multiplier”. The underlying political issue — namely, the Security Council’s decision to deploy peacekeepers into high-risk environments — must not be ignored, he stressed, adding that peacekeepers could not be a substitute for efforts to resolve conflicts.
TAKESHI AKAHORI (Japan) cited the challenges of securing well-trained and equipped peacekeepers, as well as maintaining the safety and security of personnel, which required collective efforts by the United Nations and Member States. He underlined the Committee’s crucial role in that regard, and in providing policy guidance to the Secretariat. Japan had consistently emphasized the need to prioritize training and capacity-building, as improved capabilities allowed the Organization to address the major peacekeeping challenges of safety and security. Engineering capability was essential in preparing basic facilities and infrastructure upon mission deployment, enabling a mission to promptly conduct its activities while maintaining the safety and security of peacekeepers.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said Security Council mandates based on political expediency complicated the situation on the ground vis-à-vis the security of United Nations peacekeepers. Peacekeeping fundamentals must be preserved even when adapting to changing realities, she said, adding that blurring the line between peacekeeping and peace enforcement would impact on the impartiality of the Blue Helmets. The lack of adequate resources inevitably led to non-implementation of mandates. “We should be talking about enhancing capabilities, not across-the-board cuts in the peacekeeping budget,” she said, adding that it was time to take stock of troop and equipment pledges in the light of remaining capability gaps.
TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR (Philippines), recalling that Member States had adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the hope that it would create an environment conducive to peace and reduce those conducive to war, said it was the United Nations peacekeeping operations — the least adequately funded and wisely planned of the Organization — that truly gave people on the ground a taste of peace. “Always outnumbered, ever outgunned, UN peacekeepers walk into danger, not with camouflaged headgear of stealth but with easy-to-see helmets of blue,” he said. Recalling that the Philippines had recently signed the Voluntary Compact to combat sexual exploitation and abuse, he went on to outline the country’s peacekeeping priorities, noting that it was ready to partner with other troop-contributing countries in the areas of special forces, medical hospitals and explosive ordnance disposal. He also drew attention to the importance of advising troop-contributing countries on operational and logistical capabilities; establishing clear and credible mandates matched with adequate resources; unarmed civilian protection as part-and-parcel of local political solutions; stronger regional cooperation; and fostering sustainable peace.
ELAINE MARIE FRENCH (United States) noted that peacekeepers today served in some of the most dangerous places in the world and the sacrifices and bravery they displayed in executing Council mandates were recognized. She called on the Special Committee to take bold steps towards institutionalizing a culture of performance in which only the highest performing troops and police were deployed to United Nations missions, and underperformance was never tolerated. Her country was committed to creating a system that demanded accountability for performance. If a mission’s forces were unable or unwilling to fulfil their mandate, the force generation system must be relied upon to find other contributors who were able to execute the mandate. Mission success could be a matter of life and death for civilians who relied upon peacekeepers for protection, as well as for the peacekeepers themselves. She urged the Special Committee to support the United Nations to make force generation and deployment decisions based on performance data.
ROLANDO CASTRO CÓRDOBA (Costa Rica), associating himself with CELAC, said that his country was peace-loving, unarmed and a firm believer in the peaceful resolution of conflicts between States. Costa Rica was deeply concerned about the increase of aggressive rhetoric across the world. The nature of conflicts had changed and the Organization should adapt to respond to those changes. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts to reform the United Nations peace and security pillar. His country would participate actively in the Special Committee’s work to come up with a balanced report based upon consensus, with a priority focus on protection of civilians, safety of peacekeeping staff and triangular cooperation. Operations must be focused on people, with the appropriate spaces provided for mediation and responses to sexual violence, among other matters. It was important to listen to the views of all members of the Organization so that they could all contribute to the success of missions. Cases of sexual abuse harmed the credibility of peacekeeping operations and could hinder them from implementing their mandates. The participation of women was fundamental in peacekeeping and crucial in the transition from war to peace.
RAZIYE BILGE KOÇYIĞIT GRBA (Turkey), associating herself with the European Union, said that the ongoing reform process of the United Nations peace and security architecture would have positive ramifications for the Special Committee’s work. The growing intensity of threats from terrorists and extremist groups challenged peacekeeping operations and the fulfilment of their mandates. Her country supported efforts to reinforce the safety of peacekeeping missions. A coherent strategic framework was necessary for effective peacekeeping and the creation of achievable mandates. Peacekeeping mandates should be commensurate with the resources allocated to them. She also welcomed efforts to better integrate modern technology into peacekeeping operations.
IRINA MORENO GONZÁLEZ (Ecuador), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, voiced concern about the increasing complexity of United Nations peacekeeping mandates and the subsequent deployment of Blue Helmets in risky situations around the world. All decisions about those mandates must be adopted by consensus, she stressed, drawing a link between adequate human and financial resources and success on the ground. Underlining the Secretary-General’s pact to eradicate sexual exploitation and abuse, which Ecuador fully supported, she went on to spotlight the major role played by women in conflict resolution. Since last year, Ecuador boasted three high-level female peacekeepers in missions, and it was holding trainings in the Peace Education Unit with the participation of its military officials. Additionally, it had held a course with United Nations police in late 2017.
SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, called on the United Nations to use its peacekeeping operations to help negotiate political solutions between the parties involved in strict compliance with all the principles of the United Nations Charter, especially those of impartiality, consent and the non-use of force except in situations of self-defence. Missions must not overstep their mandates, he said, also underscoring the need to fully respect the sovereignty of the host country, comply with mission mandates “without any de facto interpretation”, and avoid the use of invasive measures. In that regard, the use of drones by peacekeeping missions required the consent of the host country. Peacekeeping operations must not replace the primary role of the State to protect civilians, nor should they ever be used to prevent peace or bring down Governments. Condemning all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers — actions that went against the very reasons for the existence of missions — he said those responsible for such actions, or for attacks against civilians or peacekeepers, must be brought to justice. Concluding, he stressed that the Special Committee was the “natural and exclusive space” for decision-making about peacekeeping operations.
HARTIND ASRIN (Indonesia) stressed that “from deterrence against hostilities and ensuring that peace processes are supported and civilians safeguarded to enabling elections, State-building and reform, the role of Blue Helmets is indispensable.” The basic peacekeeping principles must continue to ensure the credibility, impartiality and security of those operations. As missions transitioned from peacekeeping to political or special political missions, the issues of insufficient capacity and finance must be addressed, he said, pressing the Committee to also focus on the safety, security and well-being of peacekeepers. Missions must urgently be equipped to ensure that they were both fit-for-purpose and cost effective. Meanwhile, all actors must uphold — and strengthen — the common commitment to eradicating sexual exploitation and abuse.
NONTAWAT CHANDRTRI (Thailand), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that peacekeeping missions must remain fit-for-purpose, with realistic, context-specific and flexible mandates commensurate with available resources. Peacekeepers must be equipped with the right skills and knowledge to perform their duties. There was a widening gap between what was being asked of peacekeeping operations and what they were able to deliver. Emphasizing the importance of consultation with host countries in a timely and flexible manner, he said women were effective agents of change, especially when it came to peacebuilding. Gender mainstreaming must continue to be prioritized in United Nations peacekeeping. Women should also be supported to play a more significant role in the negotiation and mediation process.
HMWAY HMWAY KHYNE (Myanmar), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said the role of peacekeeping should be enhanced and strengthened. Acknowledging the Special Committee’s role in providing important policy direction, she said a lighter, tighter peacekeeping profile must be developed, one that relied on specialized police capacities to support specific tasks. Myanmar valued the Secretary-General’s commitment that peacekeeping would be guided by its three principles: consent of the parties, impartiality and the non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate. It was important that the views of all stakeholders were reflected throughout the lifecycle of all missions, she said, stressing that Myanmar, despite its financial constraints, had always fulfilled its minimal financial obligations to peacekeeping on time.
JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, drew attention to his country’s record of engaging in peacekeeping operations since the onset of democracy. Calling for meaningful, collective efforts to address the increasing complexity of peacekeeping, he stressed that it was not a panacea to armed conflicts. Peacekeeping should be used to support political processes and solutions, and should take a preventive approach in addressing conflicts and their root causes. In addition, global peace and security would remain elusive without efforts to address the nexus between security and development, as one could not be achieved without the other. He voiced support for more “realistic, tailored and flexible mandates”, citing the deployment of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (MONUSCO) intervention brigade as a credible example of success, and called for increased consultation between troop- and police-contributing countries, the Secretariat and the Security Council, as well as stronger interaction with regional organizations such as the African Union. In that regard, he welcomed the signing of a joint United Nations-African Union framework for enhanced partnerships on peace and security, which would help ensure predictable and sustained funding for the latter’s peace missions.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, said his delegation had witnessed during its recently-concluded term as a non-permanent member of the Security Council that war and aggression were spreading while peace and goodwill were in retreat. The United Nations “cannot afford to stand aside”, but must instead be proactive and preventive in its actions. That included ensuring proper force generation for any peacekeeping operation in order to make it capable of delivering on its mandate. Recalling strides made in that area in recent years, he said there was still room to make operations more capable of mandate delivery, especially in light of the sometimes rapidly changing situations on the ground and asymmetrical threats. As a troop-contributing country, Ukraine welcomed efforts to improve dialogue between contributors, the Security Council, the Secretariat and host countries. Underscoring that impartiality should be one of the guiding principles of all missions, he said their tasks should not be limited only to the security sphere but should also include the protection of civilian populations and critical infrastructure and the provision of safe environments for elections. Due attention should also be paid to ensuring adequate funding and ensuring that missions did not harm the environment in the execution of their mandates.
JORGE SKINNER-KLEÉ ARENALES (Guatemala) associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, reiterated the crucial role of peacekeeping operations in the United Nations architecture of peace and security. Underlining that the peacekeeping principles must be observed, he said peacekeeping was a shared responsibility, and to make it viable, the Committee must work on conflict prevention. Clearly peacekeeping activities could be improved. Noting the high number of deaths among Blue Helmets, he referred to the report on improving peacekeeper safety, which referred to a “lack of leadership”. Among its recommendations was to set up a stronger military response to armed threats. Cooperation by host States must also be strengthened, and cooperation in the Security Council examined in that regard, he said.
MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria) said that although the United Nations Charter did not define the concept of peacekeeping operations, those activities had become a main tool for the Organization in maintaining international peace and security. The Charter stressed the need to respect the sovereignty and political independence of every State, without interference in internal affairs, and peacekeeping operations must respect those principles. Further, the principles of consent of the parties, and non-use of force, must be upheld, notably by obtaining consent from the State in which peacekeepers would be deployed. Peacekeeping operations were not an alternative for a sustainable solution. The main responsibility for protecting civilians belonged to host country authorities. The concept of protecting civilians must not be used a tool to interfere in host country affairs.
YARON WAX (Israel), spotlighting his country’s long history in peacekeeping, said Israel was currently engaged with DPKO and the Department of Field Support, as well as in the fields of management and technical support. While discussions continued in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), the Special Committee “must deliver a clear message” on changes that were urgently needed. Member States must address the grave conclusions of the Cruz report, he said, stressing that “inaction is not an option”. All peacekeepers must be equally well equipped and undergo pre-deployment training for the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, which too often was not the case. While it was up to individual Member States to prepare their troops, all must take part in providing assistance where necessary. Neither sexual exploitation and abuse nor sexual harassment, either by or among peacekeepers, could be tolerated. He urged States to avoid the paralysis caused by focusing on differences of opinion. Instead, they should come together to implement practical changes based on the report’s recommendations.
ANNE GUEGUEN (France), associating herself with the European Union, said that as a permanent Security Council member France was invested in improving the effectiveness of peacekeeping. “We need to be ambitious on civilian protection and performance,” she said, calling for “demanding but innovative” approaches to peacekeeping. Expressing support for recommendations in the Cruz report, she said it was critical to ensure the high quality of commanders and intermediary teams working with local populations. Equally critical was troop morale, she said, calling for equipment to be adapted to the theatre of operations, as well as the adoption of new and innovative technology. Voicing support for the development of new mechanisms to generate force, she said such actions marked an important step towards enhancing capacity. Welcoming joint commitments and “smart promises” to build capacities in line with States’ abilities, she called for solidarity in both basic and specialized training and noted that French troops were currently training some 29,000 African military personnel each year.
Right of Reply
The representative of Syria clarified that his remarks regarding Israel’s support of terrorists in the Golan Heights were not accusations but proven realities. He rhetorically asked how to refer to an authority whose officials visited injured members of Al-Nusra — a terrorist organization — in hospital. The Wall Street Journal had reported on 18 June 2017 that Israel’s support was regular and that the country provided arms, funds and immunities to terrorist groups. The same newspaper had published interviews with six terrorists, who affirmed that Israel’s occupation army was in direct contact with terrorist organizations.