Peacekeeping Missions Need More Flexible Approach, Resources to Better Foresee, Tackle New Threats, Speakers Say as Special Committee Concludes General Debate
To uphold its noble legacy, United Nations peacekeepers must adopt a more flexible posture, tailored to specific conflicts and endowed with the resources and capabilities needed to improve foresight in tackling new threats, delegates in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations said today as they concluded their general debate.
Around the world, Blue Helmets were increasingly called on to support political processes, protect civilians and cooperate with parallel operations that often made them targets of terrorist attacks, delegates said. From the outset, troops and police must be provided with political support, resources and clear mandates, as well as training that matched ground conditions and assurances of timely reimbursement.
Noting that Africa was host to more than 100,000 African Union and United Nations peacekeepers, as well as international civilian personnel deployed on 10 missions at an annual $7 billion cost, the Permanent Observer of the African Union said peace support operations were a vital part of the continent’s security landscape. Yet, requests were coming in to carry out operations without resources commensurate to the enormous challenges at hand — all at a time when the bloc was working assiduously to bridge a 20 per cent allowances gap.
“Let us engage in candid and progressive thinking that bears fruit to strengthened peacekeeping,” said Rwanda’s delegate, who said his country understood far too well the repercussions of poor decisions that placed the safety of civilians and prevention of conflict behind other priorities. A mindset that motivated peacekeepers to be forward‑leaning in both thought and posture must replace a culture of “passing the buck”. The Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians had enabled troop- and police‑contributors such as Rwanda to improve performance and accountability, he added.
Nepal’s delegate said his country upheld the Kigali Principles in all circumstances. As the sixth‑largest troop- and police‑contributor, Nepal deployed its personnel with utmost flexibility, even in fragile political and asymmetric threat environments.
Bhutan subscribed to the “do no harm” principle, said that country’s delegate, as it sought to reduce the carbon footprint of its peacekeeping contingents through good environmental management. Greater efforts must be made to restore faith and trust between local communities and peacekeepers, she stressed.
On that point, the Permanent Observer of the International Organization of la Francophonie called for linguistic diversity, citing persistently low numbers of French‑speaking personnel available to staff deployments to French‑speaking nations. Her organization was working to foster greater participation of French‑speaking police officers, who were essential to working with local communities.
In that context, Mali’s delegate said his country had become the most dangerous for peacekeepers. He advocated vesting the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) with the financial and human resources it needed, scaling up its operational capacities to enable it to robustly deliver on its mandate. “This situation must change,” he said.
Also speaking today were representatives of Iran, Norway, Jamaica, Cuba, Ethiopia, Senegal, Republic of Korea and Tunisia.
The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 9 March to conclude its 2018 session.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, spoke in a “triple capacity” as a member of the Special Committee, representative of a country hosting a peacekeeping mission, and a representative of a troop- and police‑contributing country to urge consistent support and amendments that reflected environments that were “endlessly in flux”. Soldiers did not have a mandate to combat terrorism. It was difficult for the United Nations to ignore that threat and the myriad forms of trafficking. “The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is not evolving in a conventional peacekeeping environment,” he said, but rather one punctuated by terrorists and traffickers, who indiscriminately attacked civilians, and both Malian and international forces. Its mandate must be adapted to ground conditions. Citing the recent report on improving peacekeeper safety co‑authored by Lieutenant General (Retired) Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz (Brazil), he stressed that “if the United Nations and troop- and police‑contributing countries fail to change mindsets, take risks and reflect a willingness to tackle new challenges, they will knowingly send troops into danger”. He also advocated vesting MINUSMA with the financial and human resources it needed, scaling up its operational capacities to enable it to robustly deliver on its mandate, and implementing Security Council resolution 2364 (2017), which conferred an offensive posture, as Mali had become the most dangerous country for peacekeepers. “This situation must change,” he said, also calling for implementation of the memorandum of understanding on cooperation between MINUSMA and Mali, and deepened consideration of new challenges, specifically the emergence of new actors and a downward trend in resources.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associated himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that while peacekeeping operations had to keep peace in a changing context, it was important to observe the principles of consent of the parties, the non‑use of force except in self‑defence and impartiality. The principles of sovereign equality, political independence, territorial integrity and non‑intervention in State matters should also be upheld. Iran recognized any initiative to make peacekeeping more efficient, agile and responsive to current realities, he said, expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s proposal to reform the peace and security pillar of the Secretariat, which must be examined thoroughly in an intergovernmental process. Any intervention by the United Nations or foreign forces under the pretext of civilian protection should be avoided, and while the use of modern technologies and intelligence should aim to increase the safety and security of United Nations personnel, the legal aspects of such should be defined in relevant intergovernmental processes. The role of regional arrangements should be defined per Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter and should not substitute the United Nations role. Any contribution to support host countries in restoring or establishing the rule of law should take into account the national ownership and cultural diversity of each country.
TORE HATTREM (Norway) said deploying more female peacekeepers would make United Nations operations safer and more effective while combating sexual exploitation and abuse. Expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s targets of achieving 15 per cent female staff and liaison officers and 20 per cent female police officers, he recalled that Norway, along with Sweden and in partnership with the Secretariat, had established a Female Military Network to help reach those goals. Calling on all actors to do more to ensure a safer environment for peacekeeping personnel, he said that could be achieved in many ways, including by listening to and engaging local communities and expertise. Intelligence enabled troops to operate in increasingly challenging environments. Norway supported the initiative to develop quarterly, forward‑looking threat assessments tailored to missions with a mandate to protect civilians, and was contributing to the development of a handbook to prevent and combat conflict‑related sexual violence. Finally, he said, the lessons learned from the “multinational rotation concept” for transport aircraft serving in MINUSMA could help smaller countries make substantial contributions, making force generation easier and more flexible.
E. COURTENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), pointed to the ongoing political transformation in Haiti, saying the international community must remain actively engaged in effective partnership with that country’s Government and people. Peacekeeping operations must be provided from the outset with political support, sufficient resources and clear mandates, with troop- and police‑contributing countries being reimbursed in a timely manner. Noting the participation of Jamaican women in peacekeeping operations, he said the Department of Peacekeeping Operations should reach out to all regions, including the Caribbean, in its efforts to better prepare senior female police officers for leadership roles. He called on the Security Council to improve consultations with troop- and police‑contributing countries, whose views should be reflected throughout the life cycle of all missions.
ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement and CELAC, said it was crucial for States to be informed of all facets of peacekeeping and called for more regular briefings in that regard. While the General Assembly should play a key role in developing peacekeeping concepts, policies, doctrines and budgets, the Special Committee was the sole United Nations body charged with dealing with peacekeeping in all its aspects. Peacekeeping missions must always be conducted in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter as well as the basic principles of peacekeeping, such as the non‑use of force except in self‑defence, political independence, State sovereignty and non‑intervention in domestic affairs. New and more complex peacekeeping operations could not be seen as a substitute for resolving conflicts; instead, they should aim to establish a security framework that would allow countries to move towards long‑term, sustainable development and political frameworks. Warning that United Nations peacekeeping missions were not designed or equipped to take on counter‑terrorism efforts, she also called for reform and improvements in the Secretariat’s performance. That should include the creation of a department of political and peacebuilding affairs, and another on peacebuilding operations. Missions with mandates to protect civilians must work closely with host Governments, she said, also calling for enhanced triangular cooperation between troop‑contributing countries, the Security Council and the Secretariat.
DOMA TSHERING (Bhutan), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted the participation of Bhutanese women police officers in United Nations peacekeeping operations and emphasized the need for increased partnerships with national and regional peacekeeping training centres. Greater efforts must also be made to restore faith and trust between local communities and peacekeepers, she said, including reducing the environmental footprint of peacekeeping missions. In that regard, Bhutan — fully subscribing to the “do no harm” principle — sought to reduce the carbon footprint and environmental impact of its peacekeeping contingents, including through use of solar energy and good environmental management practices.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, cited an incident which had claimed the lives of 14 Tanzanian peacekeepers as an example of the high risk faced by United Nations Blue Helmets. He took note of the Cruz report’s recommendations to reduce such fatalities, expressing hope that that document would contribute to the Special Committee’s discussions on how to improve the safety and security of peacekeepers while they worked to protect civilians. There was much work to be done, he said, advocating greater cooperation among the Security Council, Secretariat and troop- and police‑contributors. The Cruz report could not be seen in isolation from discussions on the broader reform of United Nations peacekeeping. In that context, he called for a political strategy to prevent and resolve conflict, and looked forward to discussions in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) on reform of the United Nations peace and security pillar. Turning to regional arrangements, he said the African Union and subregional mechanisms could play a pivotal role in maintaining peace and security. Noting that more than 8,000 Ethiopian peacekeepers served today in places such as Darfur and Abyei, South Sudan, he said 118 Ethiopian peacekeepers had died in the service of international peace. As a leading troop contributor, Ethiopia also had facilitated the adoption of Council resolution 2378 (2017).
GORGUI CISS (Senegal), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, urged the Security Council to continue its efforts to elaborate clearer, more realistic and more feasible peacekeeping mandates which took into account the operational environments and evaluations of both exigencies and material resources. The Council should prioritize the political resolution of conflicts both prior to and during mission deployment. Welcoming, in that regard, Council resolution 2378 (2017), which had underlined the primacy of States in conflict prevention, he expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s efforts to reform the Organization’s peace and security pillar. In particular, there should be enhanced engagement of troop- and police‑contributors and a greater focus on the planning and conduct of peacekeeping operations. Calling for a more holistic and systemic approach, he said the Cruz report and action plan on the safety and security of peacekeepers was a milestone, and voiced support for their recommendations. Senegal worked to tailor its pre‑deployment training to particular conditions on the ground and had established a number of training centres to do so. Also voicing support for the zero‑tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse and the adoption of resolution 2365 (2017) on mine clearance, he welcomed the recent signing of a joint United Nations‑African Union framework which forged a link between peace, security and development, and committed to deeper cooperation between the two organizations on those issues.
RAOUL BAZATOHA (Rwanda), stressing that “our work on the ground has never before impacted so many lives”, said his country knew far too well the repercussions of reluctant or poor decisions that put the safety of civilians and the prevention of conflict behind other priorities. Calling for a change in mindset that would bring to an end the current culture — characterized by “passing of the buck” — he said peacekeepers must be instilled with a high degree of confidence that drove them to be forward‑leaning in both thought and posture. “This change is not for the faint of heart, for traditional peacekeeping will never adapt, let alone keep up with the needs of civilians,” he said, calling for such changes to be coupled by the continuous applications of lessons learned. Calling for efforts to improve the performance and accountability of every stakeholder, he said the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians had enabled troop- and police‑contributing countries such as Rwanda to improve performance and accountability in more tangible ways. Urging all Member States to support those principles, he said every peacekeeper should be guided by values that had, at their heart, the best interest of civilians.
DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said 2018 marked the sixtieth year of Nepal’s involvement in United Nations peace operations. Addressing the causes of conflict presupposed the integration of prevention strategies into governance and development. “This is where the sustainable development and sustaining peace approaches complement and reinforce each other,” he said, and the United Nations must use its resources and expertise to help States build domestic capacity. The Secretary‑General’s reform efforts to ensure a “pillar approach” to mandate delivery through stronger cross‑pillar cooperation went a long way in that regard. Nepal deployed its troops, police and civilian personnel with utmost flexibility, even in fragile political and asymmetric threat environments. It was the sixth‑largest troop- and police‑contributor, with 5,492 peacekeepers in 12 missions and 2 special political missions. As Blue Helmets transformed Security Council mandates into actions on the ground and “keep the hope for peace alive”, he advocated training in how to operate in multidimensional threat environments. Nepal recognized the force multiplier impact of women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution, and was committed to reaching the United Nations goal of 15 per cent women in peacekeeping missions. There was a zero‑tolerance policy in place for sexual exploitation and abuse under the Prime Minister’s oversight, he said, reaffirming Nepal’s commitment to the Kigali Principles on the protection of civilians in all circumstances. He condemned the targeting of peacekeepers, stressing that their safety should be guaranteed through the creation of a mechanism that provided missions with timely reinforcement of personnel and equipment. Nepal looked forward to a well‑consulted process of ensuring peacekeepers’ safety and security, starting at mandate formation.
HAM SANG-WOOK (Republic of Korea) said peacekeeping missions must be designed with a long‑term perspective, aiming for stable and sustainable development in the host country rather than the temporary settlement of disputes. Consolidated efforts should also be made to enhance the safety and security of peacekeepers, with Member States contributing the tools that missions required. In addition to hosting a training session in July on protecting children, the Republic of Korea was helping to develop the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for real time mapping. Partnerships between the United Nations and regional organizations must be strengthened at all levels, he said, adding that as a Member State which received the help of United Nations forces several decades ago, his country was fully committed to maintaining international peace and security together with peacekeeping operations.
MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI (Tunisia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, recalled his country’s long‑standing peacekeeping engagements in such locations as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cambodia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Rwanda as well as its contributions of some 200 police officers to various United Nations missions. Voicing support for successful and efficient peacekeeping operations that focused on the needs of host countries, he welcomed the Secretary‑General’s efforts to reform the Organization’s peace and security pillar and underscored the importance of prevention and sustaining peace. The growing importance of the policing and rule of law component of peacekeeping operations should be further acknowledged and more resources devoted to it, he said, adding that it was particularly relevant where host countries’ capacity‑building or their civilian protection efforts were concerned. Underscoring the important role of women in United Nations peacekeeping, he voiced support for efforts to bolster their involvement in missions and better promote gender perspectives, also condemning all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse and attacks against peacekeepers.
NARJES SAIDANE, Permanent Observer of the International Organization of la Francophonie, recalled that recent decades had seen both an increase in the number of deployments in French‑speaking nations and a continued low number of French‑speaking personnel available to staff them. While her organization itself was not a direct stakeholder in peacekeeping operations, it worked to develop a strategic vision bringing together the French‑speaking community through the bolstered use of French across peacekeeping operations. Calling for full respect for linguistic diversity in such missions, she said her organization planned to provide technical support throughout 2018 to help ensure the full operationalization of French‑speaking contingents. Meanwhile, it would hold military training sessions in such areas as combating sexual exploitation and abuse, the rights of the child, gender equality, civilian protection and asymmetrical threats, all in French. The organization was also working to foster the greater participation of French‑speaking police officers, who were crucial to helping United Nations peacekeeping operations work with local communities and police forces.
SALEM M. M. MATUG of the African Union took note of the Secretary‑General’s report on the review of the peace and security architecture and looked forward to engaging in the process once the second report was issued. Noting that Africa was host to more than 100,000 African Union and United Nations peacekeepers, as well as international civilian personnel deployed on 10 missions at an annual $7 billion cost, he said peace support operations were a vital part of Africa’s security landscape. On 19 April 2017, the African Union Commission Chairperson and the Secretary‑General had signed the Joint Framework for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, an important step towards collaboration based on mutual respect and comparative advantage. In responding to peace and security challenges, the African Union had demonstrated a significant advantage that most other regions and organizations could not, and maximizing that advantage required that adequate and sustainable resources and capacities be in place. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) had been requested to carry out further operations without resources commensurate to the challenges at a time when the bloc was deploying enormous efforts to bridge the gap caused by the European Union’s 20 per cent reduction in troop allowances. Since the adoption of Security Council resolutions 2320 (2016) and 2378 (2017), African Union efforts to create a predictable cost‑sharing structure for funding peace support operations authorized by the Security Council had gained traction, notably with the African Union Peace Fund, in which contributions amounted to 57 per cent of the Fund’s 2017 target.