29 October 2013
General Assembly
GA/SPD/541

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Fourth Committee

16th Meeting (AM)


For Peacekeeping Operations Deploying into Volatile Situations, Proper Training,


Equipment, Political Neutrality Underpin Success, Fourth Committee Told

 


‘Joining Hands’ to Shore Up Operations Pays Tribute

To Blue Helmets Serving Noble Cause with ‘Sweat and Blood’


United Nations Peacekeeping missions today were set in increasingly demanding and often perilous contexts, with operational and policy challenges that could only be addressed through collective action with an “international character”, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today as it continued its comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations in all its aspects.


Though the United Nations needed to develop regional capacities and oversee policy matters, there should be greater coherence between those who formulated the mandates and those who implemented them, said Pakistan’s delegate, adding that it was high time to impart real meaning to that partnership.  “Joining hands” to make peacekeeping more effective was the best tribute the Organization could pay to the men and women who served that noble cause with devotion and “sweat and blood”.


At the same time, he stressed, in order to retain the credibility, legitimacy and general acceptance associated with United Nations peacekeeping, the use of force must only take place at the tactical level, in accordance with basic principles and with clear guidelines and command and control; peacekeepers could not afford to be seen as combatants, he added.


Rwanda’s representative agreed that the use of force in peacekeeping could threaten a mission’s impartiality, marking peacekeepers non-neutral targets and heightening the risks to civilian populations, who might be targeted in reprisal attacks.  While Rwanda supported the introduction of an intervention brigade in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) to fight negative armed forces, it also cautioned against putting peacekeepers in active combat roles, as that greatly changed the dynamic in the field and the relationship with both civilians and parties to the conflict.


The use of force, said Sudan’s representative, must be strictly limited to self-defence.  Indeed, all operations must be in accordance with the Charter’s principles, such as consent, sovereignty, respect for the political independence of States, and non-interference.  It was also important to examine the root causes of the conflict in order to find lasting solutions. 


The representative of the Russian Federation said that the mandates must be achievable and appropriate, and recent events had again confirmed the imperative of complying with them and avoiding involvement in political affairs.  Disregard for those principles could jeopardize the Organization’s neutrality.  Civilian protection was doubtless one of the most important components, but his country was concerned about recent attempts to interpret international law and equating that with “responsibility to protect”. 


Flowing from that position, Indonesia’s speaker said that the increasing number of attacks on peacekeepers reminded Member States of their responsibility to provide peacekeepers and civilian components with the required equipment, resources and training.  Gaps in those elements not only risked the lives of the peacekeepers, but also jeopardized the fulfilment of their mandate.


Peacekeeping today, asserted Mongolia’s representative, involved ambiguous situations and extremes of violence and tension and, thus, it must be ensured that peacekeepers were adequately trained and equipped.  With the security situation worsening in many field missions — Mongolia currently had some 1,000 military officers serving in six United Nations operations — the safety of United Nations personnel was a high priority issue.  Additionally, troop- and police-contributing countries should be involved in decision-making processes, since they carried ultimate responsibility for a mission’s success.


Everyone, including Member States, tended to focus attention on the most pressing and demanding situations, said Switzerland’s speaker, adding that it was important to fulfil commitments to conflicts and peacekeeping missions about which much less was heard.  While United Nations’ peacekeeping efforts in Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been at the centre of the international community‘s attention throughout the year, lesser known operations, such as in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan had often delivered “equally important results in equally successful, but less visible ways”.  That was particularly important to avoid relapses into conflict, he said. 


Also speaking today were the representatives of Peru, Venezuela, Israel, Senegal, Syria, Lebanon, Ukraine, and the United States. 


Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Israel, Syria, and Lebanon.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 29 October, to continue its comprehensive review of peacekeeping in all its aspects.


Background


The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue its comprehensive review of peacekeeping in all its aspects.


Statements


MASOOD KAHN ( Pakistan) said that United Nations peacekeeping missions were operating in an evolving context, which had become increasingly demanding and often perilous.  Current operational and policy challenges could only be addressed through collective action, with the United Nations developing regional capacities.  Additionally, troop-contributing countries must have a greater say in policy matters and decision making; there should be greater coherence between those who formulate mission mandates and those who implement them.  It was “high time” to impart real meaning to that partnership and, it was therefore unacceptable that the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations could not carry out substantive work, owing to “trivial matters” of procedure.  Pakistan urged overcoming that impasse immediately, along with strengthening mechanisms for cooperation between the troop-contributors, the Security Council and the Secretariat. 


In order to retain the credibility, legitimacy and general acceptance associated with United Nations peacekeeping, he said it was necessary to maintain the distinction between peacekeeping and peace enforcement.  The use of force in United Nations peacekeeping must only continue at the tactical level, in accordance with basic principles, and clear guidelines and command and control.  Use of force was no solution to the problem; peacekeepers could not afford to be seen as combatants.  Member States should examine how to promote civilian protection objectives through prevention and effective patrolling by the host authorities.  Sufficiently staffed and resourced missions also guaranteed the safety and security of troops and personnel.  The use of new technologies, such as information gathering, intelligence and surveillance, could enhance capacities. 


In order to attain durable peace, political processes must accompany peacekeeping and credible exit strategies, and Member States must do more to resolve the long-standing conflicts and disputes on the United Nations’ agenda, he said.  “Joining hands” to make peacekeeping more effective was the best tribute the United Nations could pay to the men and women who served that noble cause with devotion and their “sweat and blood”.


GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA VELASQUEZ (Peru), associating himself with Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Non-Aligned Movement, said that peacekeeping operations were among the most important in the gambit of United Nations activities.  Peace maintenance was an evolving process and the role of the United Nations had also evolved accordingly.  The operations increasingly had a multidimensional nature as their mandates interwove peace, sustainability, civilian capacity, civilian protection, rule of law strengthening, and respect for human rights.  He underscored the principle of national ownership, adding that peacebuilding must be an inherently national process.  The current year marked four decades of Peru’s constant participation in peacekeeping operations.  At the moment, it was providing uniformed personnel in eight countries.  Peru also welcomed the inclusion of a gender perspective in peacekeeping operations and had deployed female military observers and staff in various operations.


LAWRENCE MANZI ( Rwanda) said the evolution and the changing nature of conflict had placed greater demands on peacekeepers, and the increasing number of attacks reminded Member States of their responsibility to reduce risks, strengthen preventive measures and enhance the effectiveness of the operations.  Troop- contributing countries “cannot and should not” be forced to shoulder the financial burden of peacekeeping operations, which impeded their ability to sustain their own vital contributions.  Secondly, troop preparation was essential to the success of a peacekeeping mission, and, to that end, Rwanda would host a project conducted by the United Nations Integrated Training Services in April, aimed at increasing the number of civilian protection trainees and trainers.


He said that in its efforts to engage troop contributors, the United Nations must match the high costs incurred when certain equipment was acquired and ensure that troops had the necessities at the mission start-up.  Last year, Rwanda had deployed three military helicopters to South Sudan and was in the process of deploying three more.  It also would send a formed police unit to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) by the end of November to enhance preparations for the arrival of the peacekeeping mission there.  Finally, the use of force in peacekeeping could threaten a mission’s impartiality, marking peacekeepers as non-neutral targets and heightening the risks to civilian populations, who might be targeted in reprisal attacks.  While Rwanda ultimately supported the introduction of an intervention brigade in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) to fight negative armed forces, it cautioned putting peacekeepers in active combat roles, as that greatly changed the dynamic in the field and the relationship with both civilians and parties to the conflict.+


RINA SOEMARNO (Indonesia), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that as the operations evolved and conflicts became more complex, peacekeepers and civilian components must be provided with the required equipment, resources and training. Gaps not only risked lives, but also jeopardized fulfilment of mandates.  As the Security Council developed or modified mandates during the course of peacekeeping missions, it must do so in close and regular consultation with the stakeholders, especially with the troop- and police-contributing countries.  Considering that the imperatives of peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding overlapped and that such neat sequencing was often not possible, United Nations peacekeeping should facilitate peacemaking and peacebuilding.  However, the Council should conduct early planning, and to the extent that the ground circumstances afforded, ensure that the transitions from peacekeeping to other forms of United Nations presence were seamless.  “Nothing represented the best of the United Nations across the globe better than the noble and valiant work by the Blue Helmets to protect peace day in and out”.


ALFREDO TORO-CARBEVALI, ( Venezuela), said the mandates had shifted in recent decades from carrying out traditional functions, such as holding ceasefires within and among countries, to such activities as enforcing the rule of law, monitoring elections and ensuring civilian protection, which generally were the responsibilities of States.  Those activities had created controversy about the original mandate of United Nations peacekeepers, and Venezuela called on the operations to comply with the Charter, which decreed the non-intervention in a country’s internal affairs, as well as the consent of parties to allow the deployment of peacekeepers.  Member States should focus on using political influence in seeking a solution to conflict, and the General Assembly was the body for that deliberation.  Venezuela regretted the strategies used by a group of States that hampered the negotiations on the final document of the Special Committee, as it believed that peacekeeping operations must be flanked by the sustained efforts of the international community to reduce poverty and increase States’ capacities to govern, all within the States’ rights of self-determination. 


BENJAMIN SHARONI ( Israel) said that the Middle East was in flames as he spoke.  The region continued to be characterized by “bloodshed, repression, chaos, and instability”.  Israel supported the strengthening of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) forces and commended its commander for his strong leadership.  The violence that had shaken Syria was sending shockwaves through the region.  Syrians continued to be massacred – whether by chemical weapons or the routine brutality of the Assad regime.


The statement was interrupted by a point of order by the representative of Syria, who said that the representative of Israel had gone out of the agenda item as the Committee was considering peacekeeping and not the internal affairs of any country.


Continuing, the representative of Israel said that his country considered United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to be a stabilizing force in the region.  The relative calm in Southern Lebanon was deceptive.  For years, the Lebanese Government had violated its international obligations in regard to the Blue Line separating it and Israel.  Further, the political structures and institutions that had kept the Middle East stagnant for decades were being “rattled by an earthquake”, whose aftershocks were felt throughout the world.  It was necessary to stand in defence of the values of liberty, democracy and peace. Israel supported the forces serving on its borders.  However, history had shown that the country could not rely on others to ensure its security.  Israel had always known that “in difficult times, it would need to defend itself and that may mean by itself”.


FRÉDÉRIC TISSOT-DAGUETTE ( Switzerland) said that in Mali, the creation of MINUSMA remained important in helping to establish peace and security in a challenged region.  The mandate was ambitious, and it was crucial, therefore, that the operation receive the necessary financial and human resources to carry it out.  In addition to the peacekeeping efforts in Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which in past months had been at the centre of the international community’s attention, larger and smaller operations, such as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) had delivered “equally important results in equally successful but less visible ways”.  Everyone, Member States included, tended to focus attention on the most pressing issues, but it was important to fulfil commitments with regard to those conflicts and peacekeeping missions about which so much less was heard.  That was particularly important to avoid relapses into conflict.  Switzerland welcomed the Organization’s efforts to fully exploit the potential of modern technologies in peacekeeping operations.


MANSOR CISS ( Senegal), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the maintenance of international peace and security was the raison d'être of the United Nations, and the Charter spelled out its aspiration to preserve future generations from the scourge of war.  Rocked by many crises, the African continent was a major beneficiary of United Nations peacekeeping.  Senegal encouraged the Organization to continue its strategic partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, and the country had made substantive contributions to promote peace and democracy through a consistent foreign policy and commitments as a troop- and police-contributing country. Promoting national ownership in the host countries guaranteed success.  The core goal remained adapting operations to current and future needs, taking into account a context marked by increasingly costly and complex missions.


IHAB HAMED (Syria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that United Nations peacekeeping operations must recognize the rights of sovereign territories, avoid interference in political affairs and abide by the coherent principles set forth in the Charter, which stipulated respect for the consent of parties and the agreement of the host countries to coordinate the peacekeeping activities.  While the operations were necessary for fostering post-conflict reconciliation, they should not interfere with host country principles or substitute for the formulation of a lasting solution.


He said that peacekeeping operations were meant to be transitional, yet as a result of Israel’s continued occupation of territories and attacks in the Middle East, there had been three long-term operations in the region.  Israel’s “active aggression” in targeting peaceful activities in the region, as well as its support of terrorist activities, challenged the peacekeeping operations and played a role in the uninterrupted conflict.  Syria called on the United Nations to prevent Israel from enabling terrorists by restoring their health at its hospitals, thereby allowing them to re-engage in active aggression towards peacekeeping personnel in surrounding States.  Israeli support to terrorist organizations gave way to a number of actions by the terrorists, including invading the bases of peacekeeping personnel and stealing equipment bearing the United Nations logo.  Those terrorist actions challenged the work of the peacekeepers and prevented them from returning home. 


ABUZIED SHAMSELDIM AHMED MOHAMED (Sudan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that his country had garnered vast and pioneering experience on the subject of cooperation between peacekeeping operations and the host country.  The operations must be in accordance with the Charter’s principles, such as consent, sovereignty, respect for the political independence of State, and non-interference.  The use of force must be limited strictly to self-defence.  It was also important to examine the root causes of the conflict in order to find lasting solutions.  A clearly defined mandate was crucial, and peacekeeping operations must be able to combat “all non-State actors, looters, criminals and groups of terrorists”.  Sudan also underscored the significant role played by troop-contributing countries when it came to designing policies and refining decision-taking processes.  Finally, the deployment of operations on the ground required sustained efforts by the United Nations, such as good-offices missions and bringing pressure to bear on all parties to the conflict to ensure their engagement in a political process.


GANKHUURAI BATTUNGALAG ( Mongolia) said that peacekeeping today involved ambiguous situations and extremes of violence and tension.  The complexity of contemporary conflicts was known to all, and the ongoing surge in peacekeeping required a genuine and concerted response.  Mongolia had enhanced its participation in peacekeeping missions, with around 1,000 of its military officers serving in six United Nations operations, including some of the most challenging.  In many field missions, the security situation was worsening, and as such, the safety of United Nations personnel was a high priority issue.  All necessary steps should be taken to ensure that peacekeepers were adequately trained and equipped to fulfil their mandates.  Troop- and police-contributing countries should be involved in decision-making processes, since they carried ultimate responsibility for a mission’s success.  His country was concerned over the staffing of the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support, and urged the Secretariat to improve representation from troop- and police-contributing countries.


CHARLES WEHBI ( Lebanon) said that the United Nations had always placed peacekeeping operations at the heart of its undertakings to enable populations to enjoy freedom from fear, violence and injustice.  The evolving nature of conflict and its increasing complexity required greater collaboration:  to consolidate expertise from coordination within the United Nations system, and to identify needs with local parties in line with field priorities.  This year, the UMOJA pilot project had been launched at the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL). He lauded UNIFIL’s female peacekeepers, who had taken up such positions as platoon commanders, medical officers, military police, mine clearance team leaders and more.  The question of Israeli aggression against Lebanon had troubled the United Nations for more than six decades, but Lebanese armed forces worked closely with UNIFIL, and he looked forward to shoring up Lebanese capabilities.


SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine), aligning himself with the European Union, said that his country strongly supported the recommendations produced by the Senior Advisory Group on Troop Reimbursement Rates and Other Related Issues towards a new approach to the structure of reimbursement in connection the highly specialized military assets.  Having said that, the key point remained unchanged – a real long-term solution warranted the creation of more robust incentives to countries contributing military helicopters.  That was the only sustainable way to bridge this critical gap.  His country also supported the recommendations for the reimbursement system to recognize the different levels of risks incurred by troops in different United Nations missions, with the objective of securing broader and more effective participation in the full range of missions, including the most demanding ones.  Ukraine, as an active police-contributing country, also closely followed developments in the area of strengthening United Nations police capacities, and welcomed the recent development of the Strategic Guidance Framework aimed at promoting standardization within the United Nations police.


PETR ILICHEV ( Russian Federation) said that the Security Council bore the primary responsibility for responding to international affairs and issuing peacekeeping mandates.  The General Assembly and the Fourth Committee (Special Committee and Decolonization) through the Special Committee on Peacekeeping was mandated to provide political recommendations.  In deciding how the United Nations responded to a crisis, it was vital to consider its nature and threat, in order to avoid duplication of activities by various United Nations bodies.  Further, it was important to remember that two-thirds of peacekeepers were military staff, asked to fulfil increasingly complex mandates, including peacebuilding.  Civilian protection was doubtless one of the most important components.  Russia was concerned about recent attempts to interpret international law and equating that with “responsibility to protect”.  Clearly, operations’ mandates must be achievable and appropriate, and recent events had once again confirmed the primary importance of complying with them and avoiding involvement in political affairs. Disregard for those principles could jeopardize the Organization’s neutrality.


JEFFREY DELAURENTIS ( United States) said that there was no question that the world still required the support of United Nations peacekeeping to provide the space and expertise needed to help fragile States to make the transition from violent conflict to durable stability.  Peacekeeping was a collective endeavour, requiring the cooperation of interested States and the expertise and dedication of many people — military, police and civilians — in the field and at Headquarters. The United States continued to stress that protection of civilians was central to that crucial work, both in terms of human decency, but also as the foundation for stable governance.  People must be able to live and carry out their daily activities in safety for societies to function.  His country welcomed the efforts of the United Nations to develop consistent professional guidance and standards for a wide range of military specialties.


Right of Reply


Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Israel said that the Syrian delegation had abused the session to make baseless allegations against his country.  The Syrian Government was seeking to distract attention from its brutal regime through such tactics.  “I suppose we should be glad that they were launching words and not missiles as they were doing at their own people,” he added.  To the Syrian people, Israel said that though their political positions were different, they were connected by the eternal link to a common humanity.  Israel would continue to offer humanitarian assistance to any civilian in need.


Also responding to the statement by the Lebanese delegation, Israel’s delegate said that, in the last two months, the violations of the Blue Line from the Lebanese side had increased significantly.  He was shocked by Lebanon’s audacity to criticize Israel when a part of the Lebanese regime was involved in killing people in Syria.


The representative of Syria, also exercising his right of reply, said that he wished to focus on the agenda item under consideration and not on other matters.  What had been stated by Israeli occupying forces was a desperate attempt to distract attention from the support provided by Israel to terrorist groups, thereby jeopardizing United Nations troops.  Those allegations also aimed to hide the fact that the Israeli occupation was the reason for three missions in the region.  The claims of the representative of the Israeli occupying forces about his respect for peacekeeping were a source of amusement given Israel’s black record of aggression.


The representative of Lebanon, also exercising his right of reply, reaffirmed what he had already said in his statement, which contained reported facts regarding crimes committed by Israel, including the attack on the UNIFIL post.  Those crimes should not be repeated, and the United Nations should not permit their recurrence.  Israeli aggressions and systematic attacks and its incursion of Lebanese airspace must be condemned.  UNIFIL must ensure the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied Southern Lebanon.


Again taking the floor, the representative or Israel said that the Syrian delegation had decided to lecture the Committee after killing more than 100,000 of its people.  Syria was not just an expert in terrorism, but also in lies.


The representative of Syria, in a further right of reply, said that he was not lecturing; he was merely referring to facts as reflected in United Nations documents.  If the representative of Israel did not like a dose of reality, it was his problem.  He would be better served by responding to the crimes being perpetrated against the peacekeeping officials in the region or rendering an apology to the international community.


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For information media • not an official record