As United Nations Strives to Keep Pace with Peacekeeping Demands, Fourth Committee Speakers Say Blue Helmets Need Clear Guidance for Protection of Civilians Mandates
As United Nations Strives to Keep Pace with Peacekeeping Demands, Fourth Committee Speakers Say Blue Helmets Need Clear Guidance for Protection of Civilians Mandates
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
17th Meeting (AM)
As United Nations Strives to Keep Pace with Peacekeeping Demands, Fourth Committee
Speakers Say Blue Helmets Need Clear Guidance for Protection of Civilians Mandates
Multiplication of Operations Requires Thorough Reflection on Where,
When, Why, How United Nations Should Resort to Peacekeepers, Committee Hears
As the United Nations strove to keep pace with the demands of peacekeeping around the world in operations that were ever increasing in scope and complexity, delegates in the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) today called for clear guidance for peacekeeping field personnel, especially when entrusted with protection mandates for civilians in areas of armed conflict.
Speaking on the second day of the Committee’s general debate on the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects, Canada’s representative -– on behalf of the CANZ group (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) -– stressed that the ongoing evolution in the nature of peacekeeping operations continued to put deployed forces to the test, and recent attacks against peacekeepers indicated the essential need to come to a consensus on robust peacekeeping, protection of civilians and peacebuilding. Furthermore, the prevalence of the lingering forces of war and violence in post-conflict situations was an argument for peacekeepers to have the means to deter or prevent militant attempts to undermine the peace.
While the Security Council had mandated the protection of civilians, it remained one of the least understood concepts for peacekeepers to implement on the ground, he said, concerned that military and police personnel did not have the appropriate guidance to effectively carry out protection mandates. Member States needed to reach a shared understanding on the tasks of peacekeepers and the implications of robust peacekeeping for operational requirements. The establishment of operational norms and standards were essential in that regard.
Taking further the discussion of protection of civilians, Indonesia’s representative said that was an extremely important component of peacekeeping, and he too expected that realistic and practical guidelines, as well as requisite force numbers and resources, would be provided to peacekeepers to enable them to execute that mandate. Practical guidelines should make clear what peacekeepers could and could not do.
In fact, he proffered, the complete achievement of the tasks given to the peacekeepers necessitated that they were deployed with clear protocols. If the critical factors, such as the security and humanitarian situation on the ground deteriorated, or the protection of civilians was at stake, the Council should act swiftly to develop an appropriate mandate.
Stressing that the coordinated action of all relevant bodies with a peacekeeping mandate was key to ensuring that missions fulfilled realistic expectations, Brazil’s speaker said that such an approach was particularly important as a broad reconsideration of peacekeeping was initiated. The multiplication of operations -– with their numerous and varied repercussions and demands, which were sometimes unrealistic or ill-advised –- required a thorough reflection on where, when, why and how the United Nations should resort to its blue helmets. Such reflection necessitated strategic thinking about the links between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and an adjustment of peacekeeping doctrines to a concept of peace that meant more than the absence of conflict.
In that connection, Egypt’s representative pointed to the upcoming tenth anniversary of the Brahimi Report as an opportunity to achieve a new global partnership on United Nations peacekeeping operations, which could lead to a solution to the increased demand for peacekeeping, and perhaps address the gap between mandates and what could be implemented on the ground within available resources. Underscoring the need to take into account a set of priorities in any coming revision process, and to reach consensus, he said that the priorities included, among other things, the need for clarity of mandates and a cohesiveness of political and military planning, particularly when it came to new sets of tasks under consultation, on which no consensus had yet been reached.
Noting that Pakistan was the largest troop-contributing country to United Nations peacekeeping missions -– accounting for 10 per cent of all blue helmets in the world –- that country’s representative, along with several other delegates, said that peacekeeping, as the flagship activity of the United Nations, had galvanized the confidence of the international community in the Organization, but it had also led to a surge in demand. Those realities presented multiple challenges in planning, deployment and management, which left no room to confuse United Nations peacekeeping missions with other kinds of peace operations led by non-United Nations entities.
Also speaking in the debate were the representatives of Philippines, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam, Ukraine, China, Iran, Georgia, Tunisia, Russian Federation, Uruguay and Kenya.
The representatives of Georgia and the Russian Federation spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m., on Wednesday, 28 October, to conclude its comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this morning to continue its general debate on the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.
The Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on Support to African Union peacekeeping operations authorized by the United Nations (document A/64/359-S/2009/470).
The Secretary-General recalls in the report that, in the Security Council’s presidential statement of 18 March 2009 (document S/PRST/2009/3), the Council had asked him to submit a report by 18 September on practical ways to provide effective support to the African Union in undertaking peacekeeping operations authorized by the United Nations, including a detailed assessment of the recommendations contained in the report dated 31 December 2008 of the African Union-led United Nations panel, established under Security Council resolution 1809 (2008) to consider the modalities for support to African Union peacekeeping operations (document A/63/666-S/2008/813).
The present report fulfils the above requirement. In it, the Secretary-General makes a number of proposals that he says he believes will strengthen the strategic partnership between the Union and the United Nations. He has also sought to describe a series of short-term and long-term actions that the United Nations can take to build the capacity of the Union to undertake successful peacekeeping operations. He applauds the efforts by donors and reiterates the need to work together, within the context of a focused framework to build the Union’s capacity. He has also emphasized in the report the requirement for the provision of sustainable and predictable resources to ensure success of African Union peacekeeping operations authorized by the United Nations, and he has provided an assessment of various mechanisms that may assist the Security Council and the General Assembly in exploring means to assist the Union in supporting peacekeeping operations authorized by the Council.
It also had before it a letter dated 7 October 2009 from the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations addressed to the President of the General Assembly (document A/64/494), which contains a summary of the report on outcomes of the 3C Conference on Improving Results in Fragile and Conflict Situations, held on 19 and 20 March, in Geneva, Switzerland.
In the letter transmitting the report, Switzerland’s Ambassador, Peter Maurer notes that the 3C road map contains recommendations and agreed language jointly developed by various policy communities, States and international organizations, while taking into account the views of partner countries to improve results in fragile and conflict situations. It is intended to reinforce related ongoing international processes, such as those led by the United Nations, the World Bank, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and to promote synergy among them.
CHRISTOPHER SIMONDS ( Canada), speaking on behalf of the CANZ group of countries ( Canada, Australia, New Zealand), said the ongoing evolution in the nature of peacekeeping operations continued to put deployed forces to the test. More and more, conflict situations were confronted by multidimensional challenges and “asymmetric threats”. Recent attacks on peacekeepers, such as those on African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), were a clear reflection of the dangerous and unpredictable environments in which soldiers, police and civilians were expected to function. The attack on AMISOM had been particularly poignant, since the perpetrators were disguised as United Nations representatives.
He said that, against that difficult setting, some important strides had nevertheless been witnessed in improving the ability to plan for and manage peacekeeping operations. The group stressed the need to maintain that momentum, so that peacekeeping could keep pace with the changing realities on the ground. In that light, “unity of purpose” was essential for providing the basic framework for success of any peacekeeping operation. As delineated in the New Horizon initiative, enhancing partnerships between the Security Council, the Secretariat, and Member States, as well as between the United Nations and regional organizations was crucial, and the group urged the Security Council and the Secretariat to build on the consultation mechanisms through regular dialogue.
Mandate renewals required a full, cooperative confirmation of directives and rationales, rather than simply adding new and possibly conflicting tasks to existing ones, he said. Missions must be adequately resourced, with a realistic view of both resource requirements and resource restraints. However, potential limitations must not be allowed to prejudice the feasibility of missions for which there was a clearly defined need.
As for robust peacekeeping, protection of civilians, and peacebuilding, he said that recent attacks against peacekeepers indicated the essential need to come to a consensus on those subjects. The prevalence of the lingering forces of war and violence in post-conflict situations was an argument for peacekeepers to have the means to deter or prevent militant attempts to undermine the peace. In order to ensure that the mission objectives established by the Security Council could be met, Member States should come to a shared understanding on the tasks of peacekeepers, as well as the implications of robust peacekeeping for operational requirements. Although the Security Council had mandated the protection of civilians, that remained one of the least understood concepts for peacekeepers to implement on the ground, and military and police personnel did not have appropriate guidance to effectively carry out protection mandates. The establishment of operational norms and standards were therefore essential.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil), associating her delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Rio Group, said that peacekeeping, for millions of people, was one of the most tangible facets of the United Nations efforts to create a better world. It was one of the Organization’s main achievements, mobilizing thousands of troops, police and civilians around the globe with profound impact on the ground at a relatively low cost. The prestige and legitimacy of the Organization in the eyes of the international public opinion were dependent, to a large extent, on the success of its peacekeepers. Two key aspects of that crucial endeavour must be inclusiveness and cooperation. Although the Security Council had the most visible role with regard to peacekeeping operations, the General Assembly had played a vital part in their creation and management ever since the establishment of UNEF-1 (United Nations Emergency Force) in 1956. There, everyone had a voice: those who hosted peacekeeping operations, those who contributed troops, police and civilian personnel, and even those countries whose current peace and prosperity were secured with the decisive contribution of United Nations peacekeeping years ago.
At the same time, she said, the coordinated action of all relevant bodies with a mandate on peacekeeping -– the Security Council, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations -– was key to ensuring that missions functioned properly and fulfilled realistic expectations. That approach was particularly important as a broad and indispensable reconsideration of peacekeeping was initiated. The multiplication of operations, with their numerous and varied repercussions and demands placed upon peacekeeping -– sometimes unrealistic or ill-advised –- required a thorough reflection on where, when, why and how the United Nations should resort to its blue helmets. It was necessary to think strategically about the links between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and adjust peacekeeping doctrines to a concept of peace that meant more than the absence of conflict, and that fully recognized the role of socio-economic development in consolidating stability. It would better guide each mission, within its specific mandate, to devise the best tools available in its particular circumstances.
ELMER CATO ( Philippines), aligning his delegation with the statements made on behalf of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Non-Aligned Movement, drew attention to the two-year anniversary last week of the death of Lieutenant Colonel Renerio Batalla, who had died of cerebral malaria “because a member of our peacekeeping family failed to do his job”. His death had emphasized the need for the United Nations to ensure the safety, security and well-being of peacekeepers. He echoed the Special Committee’s grave concern about the loss of life, as a result of the negligence and incompetence of United Nations medical staff.
He said that other Member States should assume a larger share of the peacekeeping burden. If smaller, developing countries like the Philippines could do it, certainly larger and more affluent ones could do more to support United Nations peacekeeping efforts. Member States, in the coming months, should step forward to allow the Organization to expand its police- and troop-contributing countries base. Training activities should also be extended to contributing countries to ensure that peacekeeping personnel were well prepared to assume their duties, and the participation of women should be further encouraged.
The Philippines had been involved in peacekeeping since 1960, and was recently deployed to the Golan Heights to take over the peacekeeping responsibilities from Poland, he noted.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ (Egypt), associating his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that there were just a few months until the tenth anniversary of the Brahimi Report, which was an opportunity to achieve a new global partnership on United Nations peacekeeping operations and promote frameworks for cooperation between all stakeholders. That could lead to a solution to the increased demand on peacekeeping and to addressing the gap between mandates and what could be implemented on the ground, within available resources. The steady increase in dependence on peacekeeping operations was due in large part to the inability of the United Nations to implement its role in preventive diplomacy and conflict prevention. It was also due to the transformation of peacekeeping operations to missions for conflict management, and the increased dependence of host countries on the role of those missions and its military and police capabilities to enhance their national capabilities in the areas of defence and security, without sufficient effort by the United Nations to build those countries’ capacities. That had led to the prolongation of peacekeeping operations, in the absence of national alternatives; the processes had become continuous, without clear prospects for exit strategies.
He said that there was a need to take into account a set of priorities in any coming revision process, and to reach consensus on it, during the consideration of the New Horizon non-paper. Those priorities included consideration of peacekeeping as one tool for maintaining international peace and security, within a series of political instruments. The clarity of mandates and the cohesiveness of political and military planning were also important, particularly when it came to new sets of tasks under consultation, on which no consensus had yet been reached. Setting an exit strategy was also important, as was ongoing promotion of confidence between peacekeeping parties represented in the Security Council, the troop contributing countries, and the Secretariat. Those partnerships were the basis for success and sustainability of peacekeeping operations. Also important was strengthening cooperation with regional organizations, which had become increasingly responsible for maintaining international peace and security under Chapter VIII of the Charter.
PALITHA KOHONA (Sri Lanka), aligning his statement with that of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that peacekeeping was a clear example of United Nations successful multilateralism. The consensus of the parties, especially the elected Governments, impartiality, and neutrality remained indispensable ground rules, even in the context of today’s multidimensional and robust peacekeeping. The amount of political support that missions could harness from the stakeholders would largely depend on how those principles were put into practice, and could determine the effectiveness, legitimacy, and credibility of peacekeeping.
He said that clear and achievable mandates were paramount when planning and designing peacekeeping missions, and setting practical benchmarks on achievements helped to monitor and readjust the responses required on the ground. Missions required exit strategies, contingency plans, and human and material resources to support them. Additionally, the importance of the Secretariat’s consultations with Member States and its reporting mechanisms could not be overemphasized.
Robust peacekeeping should not be taken for peace enforcement, he said. Civilian protection mandates, where applicable, should be carried out without prejudice to the primary responsibility of the host country to protect its own civilians. For its part, Sri Lanka pledged its support to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The Sri Lankan Navy, which had “hands on” experience in defeating terrorism at sea, would lend support to United Nations peacekeepers on matters of maritime security.
HOANG CHI TRUNG (Viet Nam), associating his delegation with the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that today, with more than 117,000 personnel serving in 17 peacekeeping operations across five continents, peacekeeping operations shouldered a unique spectrum of multifaceted mandates, which extended far beyond the traditional tasks and evolved to meet new challenges and political realities. Today’s challenges were unprecedented in scale, complexity and risk level. Peacekeepers’ engagement included supporting political dialogue between parties, assisting national Governments to broaden State authority, advising on security sector reforms, supporting disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, and protecting civilians. The growing multidimensional aspect and complexity of protracted conflicts had also brought about an abrupt surge in peacekeeping demand in recent years and overstretched the capacity of the Organization.
He said that the changing context and evolving nature of peacekeeping operations had attested to the durability of political commitment of national stakeholders, the availability of support of the international community, and the efficiency of coordination among United Nations agencies. The intersection between peacekeeping and conflict prevention and resolution, preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peacebuilding remained critical for the smooth transition of war-ravaged countries to lasting peace, security and development. The establishment and deployment of peacekeeping missions should strictly observe the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter, and those that had evolved to govern peacekeeping as its basic principles, namely the consent of the concerned parties and the non-use of force, except in self-defence, and impartiality.
In a broader context, he said, the success, credibility and effectiveness of United Nations peacekeeping operations rested upon respect for the fundamental principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all States, and non-intervention into matters that were essentially within their domestic jurisdiction. For peacekeeping operations to succeed, it was imperative that they be given achievable and clear mandates, and provided with adequate financial and human resources.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine), aligning his delegation with the statement on behalf of the European Union, said that rising demands for United Nations peacekeeping could only be met through a global partnership of all actors involved. However, despite a move towards the tripartite cooperation between the Security Council, the Secretariat, and troop contributing countries, those countries contributing police and troops remained a “missing link” in that equation.
He expressed deep concern over the increasing threats to United Nations peacekeeping personnel, ranging from deliberate attacks to tragic accidents. Ukraine was “more than ever” convinced that ensuring the adequate level of safety and security of United Nations personnel must be a central element of any peacekeeping operation. In that respect, he strongly supported the New Horizon initiative recommendation to enhance information gathering, analysis and security risk assessment capacities, including drawing on information provided by contributing countries.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said that numerous attempts had been made to seek institutional reform of United Nations peacekeeping operations. Nevertheless, the huge scale of those operations continued to exert great pressure on fulfilling their duties. It was necessary to seek a model of sustainability for those operations, in order to consolidate the support of Member States and enhance the capacity of the missions. In order to obtain that sustainability, it was necessary, among other things, to foster a common understanding among all parties that mandates should be clear and operable. It was also necessary to have clear priorities, in order to make rational decisions.
He said that the formulation of goals and an exit strategy should be the focus in the management of peacekeeping operations. His delegation hoped that in their implementation, the Secretariat would emphasize the capacity-building of the countries concerned to avoid their reliance on peacekeeping operations. That discussion should be premised on the primary responsibility of countries concerned and the respect for their sovereignty. The further improvement of the quality of peacekeepers was also important, as was the further strengthening of training. Developing countries were the major troop contributors, and they had made great sacrifices for peacekeeping. His delegation hoped to see more countries take part in peacekeeping operations. Member States had an obligation to provide adequate resources for peacekeeping operations, and they had made great efforts to maintain their support, in light of the financial and economic crises. The Secretariat should increase efficiency in using peacekeeping resources. He also hoped that discussions by Member States on the topic would be carried out in an integrated manner, and would produce constructive proposals.
AMIR HOSSEIN HOSSEINI (Iran), associating his statement with that made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the United Nations was the most appropriate international body to respond effectively to situations demanding peacekeeping operations. When doing so, it was important for the Organization to act in accordance with the Charter, especially the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and non-intervention in matters which were essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of the Members and nations concerned.
He warned that peacekeeping missions would “bear no fruits” unless the root causes of international and local conflicts were deeply and duly addressed. Hence, the mere deployment of missions without taking decisive steps to solve economic, social, cultural and political problems of the societies concerned would serve no purpose; it would be nothing but “prescribing calmative drugs for serious illness”. Missions should be designed in a way that addressed the root causes of conflicts and paved the way for the sustainable development of those peoples trapped in a cycle of violence. The consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of force except in self-defence must serve as the guiding principle.
The role of regional arrangements should be in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter and should not in any way be involved in peacekeeping operations as a substitute for the United Nations, or supplant the Organization’s primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security, he said.
HASAN KLEIB (Indonesia), associating his delegation with statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said that as the demand, complexity and risk facing peacekeeping grew manifold, the challenges to the brave blue helmets were unprecedented. The support and cooperation of the international community must befit the tasks. The unique global partnership, drawing together the contributions of the United Nations system and the different regions, should be clearly and firmly based on the three basic principles of United Nations peacekeeping, namely, consent of the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate. His delegation, therefore, fully agreed on the need for clear and achievable mandates with clearer priorities from the Security Council. Moreover, the complete achievement of the tasks given to the peacekeepers necessitated that they were deployed with clear protocols. If the critical factors, such as the security and humanitarian situation on the ground deteriorated, or the protection of civilians was at stake, the Council should act swiftly to develop an appropriate mandate.
He said that Indonesia considered the protection of civilians as extremely important in peacekeeping missions, but it expected that realistic and practical guidelines on the protection of civilians, as well as requisite force numbers and resources, would also be provided to the peacekeepers to enable them to execute those mandates. Practical guidelines should make clear what peacekeepers could and could not do. It could not be overemphasized that cooperation, early and meaningful consultation, and coherence among the Security Council, troop-contributing countries, the Secretariat and host Governments were essential for the success of peacekeeping operations. Training was also immensely important to peacekeepers’ performance, as was an adequately resourced and supported United Nations standby civilian capacity.
GIORGI TEVZADZE ( Georgia) drew attention to the already-terminated peacekeeping operation in Abkhazia, and said that when options for the future of that operation had been considered by the Security Council, a multinational military force had been authorized that was not under United Nations command. It consisted instead of contingents made available by interested Member States, including the Russian Federation. That approach, chosen over the other available option to introduce United Nations peacekeeping forces in accordance with normal practice -- in that no one country contributed more than one-third of its strength –- had been unfortunate and was considered a “historical mistake”.
He said that the peacekeeping operation “ostensibly” conducted by the Commonwealth of Independent States had in reality been carried out entirely by one single, neighbouring country. For that reason, it was clear from the beginning that that operation was destined for failure, as it contradicted the impartial spirit of United Nations peacekeeping operations. While peacekeeping forces had been tasked with securing the return of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons, who had been “ethnically cleansed” from the Abkhazia territory, none of those internally displaced persons had been returned to their native land with any kind of safety or protection. It was widely recognized that the format of the operation had not been adequate to facilitate the reconciliation process, and in August 2008, the “ill-designed” operation served to annex Ukraine. In that instance, peacekeepers became an integral part of foreign invading forces. That served as an example of the need to improve peacekeeping operations.
GHAZI JOMAA (Tunisia), endorsing the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that there were major challenges confronting the peacekeeping field, which were triggered by the many operations under way in various parts of the world. Peacekeeping operations were multifaceted, and the various initiatives undertaken recently had become ever more important and required further study and exchanges of views. In that regard, the New Horizons non-paper was especially pertinent. His delegation wished to restate the view of the extreme importance for Member States -– especially troop-contributing countries -– to take part in any debate on the improved performance of peacekeeping operations and their smooth functioning.
He said that the lessons learned should not be forgotten, as those would help to tackle the various crises and peacekeeping needs. The General Assembly and its specialized bodies remained the appropriate framework for discussing those issues. It was also necessary to promote partnership among Member States, the Secretariat and the Security Council. For more than four decades, Tunisia had been participating in peacekeeping operations. It would continue to support peacekeeping operations, which remained a source of hope for people suffering from war and crises. But transparency in all decisions affecting those operations must be guaranteed.
He reiterated the importance of respect for the basic principles that underpinned peacekeeping operations, including the approval of parties involved, the use of force for the purpose of self-defence only, and a commitment to impartiality. The security and protection of peacekeeping personnel must be guaranteed, and success in their tasks should be ensured. He stressed that a meeting held yesterday in the Security Council on ways and means of supporting peacekeeping operations on the African continent had been very important. Interaction between regional and international organizations should be supported; the dialogue and cooperation inherent in that relationship should be bolstered.
NITIKA ZHOKOV ( Russian Federation) said that improving United Nations peacekeeping was a fundamental task, tapping into the full resources of regional organizations while bolstering the potential of the United Nations itself in all areas of peacekeeping. The New Horizons initiative might serve as a reasonable basis for determining practical recommendations for enhancing United Nations peacekeeping activities, and he stressed that operations must develop realistic and clear-cut mandates. In many operations, peacekeepers were tasked with reforming security sectors, disarmament, reintegration, and social and economic transformations. One of the main criteria for providing such assistance must take into account the interests of all parties involved.
He said that the Organization must address the feasibility of strong peacekeeping, which might not always warrant the expansion of the peacekeeping mandate. Protecting civilians in the context of the implementation of peacekeeping mandates was a question that required painstaking study, as the protection of the peaceful civilian population was primarily the task of Governments involved in the conflict. However, the international community must effectively achieve compliance by all parties with the norms of international humanitarian law and the relevant Security Council resolutions.
Representatives of troop-contributing countries should play a more active role, and the number of United Nations partners in peacekeeping should also be expanded, he said. All peacekeeping activities should be carried out in strict observance of the Security Council’s prime responsibility for maintaining international peace. Regional organizations had the most potential in areas of mediation, preventive diplomacy and peacebuilding, and he supported the statement by the President of the Security Council, adopted yesterday, which graphically reaffirmed the need to bolster the peacekeeping potential of regional organizations.
Commenting on the statement made by the representative of Georgia, he said it seemed that establishing peacekeeping operations in that part of the world 15 years ago had not been a “historic mistake”, and the whole operation had not been doomed to failure. For 15 years, the peacekeepers deployed in that part of the region had maintained the peace and security of the operation. The international community “knew” what the reason was for the “irreversible changes”, in August of last year, in the situation of that region. To say that Russia had begun military operations leading to the death of peacekeepers and members of the civilian populations would be quite incorrect and “certainly sound very strange”.
MARTÍN VIDAL (Uruguay), aligning his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Rio Group, said that since the end of last year, under an extremely difficult context, the effectiveness of the peacekeeping system had been tested, as had the response of Member States. It was clear that all Member States wished to reverse the threats and turn them into opportunities to improve and strengthen United Nations peacekeeping through a collective effort. In the last 10 months, Member States had met often to discuss aspects relating to peacekeeping operations. That had heightened awareness of the matters and made it possible to identify common priorities. During the past year, important strides had also been made regarding more interaction and coordination between the major actors, particularly among the troop- and police-contributing countries, the Security Council and the Secretariat.
He highlighted an invitation by the Security Council’s working group on peacekeeping issues, under Japan’s presidency, for joint meetings with troop- and police-contributing countries and the Secretariat to discuss specific challenges on the ground in specific missions. Including the troop- and police-contributing countries in those mechanisms contributed practically to expanding the vision on the ground. Turning to the New Horizon non-paper, his delegation considered the document to be a very important contribution. It did not offer definitive solutions, but rather encouraged discussion. It should be presented to the Special Committee, so that Member States could have a constructive dialogue on its content. As for substance, the paper encompassed a wide range of issues, most of which were already part of the agenda, including, among others, a set of initiatives that strengthened interaction, taking advantage of peacekeeping capabilities in the early stages of post-conflict reconstruction, and recognition of the value of political dialogue to prevent conflicts or find a way out of them. It was important to continue to build confidence and to have bridges, which could only be achieved through open and frank dialogue.
ZACHARY D. MUBURI MUITA ( Kenya), associating his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that peacekeeping was one of the primary instruments available to the United Nations for achieving its aspiration of saving succeeding generations from the scourge of war. It remained the principle focus of the United Nations and, more than any other, was the issue by which the Organization was critically judged. Put literally, its success or failure was “a matter of life and death” to those it was intended to protect. Peacekeeping, however, had undergone immense transition from the traditional role of monitoring ceasefires to today’s complex and multidimensional missions. That transformation called for shared responsibility by all Member States.
He said that Kenya, for its part, had, over the years, supported United Nations peacekeeping through the deployment of its men and women in missions spread across the globe. Currently, it was deployed in five peacekeeping missions in Africa, where it contributed military, police and prison officers in inherently difficult and dangerous environments, in support of world peace. He reaffirmed his delegation’s commitment to continued support of the United Nations in that noble cause.
Furthermore, his delegation believed that partnerships were essential for the success of global peacekeeping operations, and especially supported United Nations efforts directed towards the enhancement of African peacekeeping capacities. The African Union had intervened in the past to stabilize conflict situations in Darfur, Burundi, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The United Nations had subsequently taken over. With that, the African Union had demonstrated sufficient political will to tackle the challenges confronting the continent. However, the African peace and security architecture required increased support, especially in the area of peacekeeping capacities. Towards that goal, he urged support for the East African Standby Brigade, the International Peace Support Training Centre and the International Mine Action Training Centre, all based in Kenya. That would augment regional efforts to mitigate incidents that gave rise to conflicts.
AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL ( Pakistan), aligning his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country believed in the value of multilateralism. The United Nations had an irreplaceable and central role in effectively addressing the global challenges of peace and security, and peacekeeping was a key instrument towards that endeavour. Pakistan’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping operations over the years was the most tangible demonstration of its commitment to the success of the United Nations. It was a practical affirmation of its abiding faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter. Pakistan was presently the largest troop-contributing country to United Nations peacekeeping missions, with nearly 11,000 personnel, accounting for 10 per cent of all blue helmets in the world.
Noting that peacekeeping had been deemed the flagship activity of the United Nations, he said that its success in recent years had galvanized the confidence of the international community in the Organization. It had also led to a surge in demand. Those new realities presented multiple challenges in planning, deployment and management of peacekeeping operations. Reform, rationalization and strengthening of United Nations peacekeeping capacity, therefore, were a common objective. There was a need to enhance synergy and distil complementarities in all previous initiatives, with a view to ensuring continuity of the reform process. As such, United Nations peacekeeping required consistent efforts, enhanced resources and, above all, greater political will to sustain long-term success. There was also no room to confuse United Nations peacekeeping missions with other kinds of peace operations led by non-United Nations entities. That distinction was essential to uphold the legitimacy and neutrality of United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Right of Reply
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of Georgia, responding to comments made by the representative of the Russian Federation in his statement, said that the report of the independent fact-finding mission on the conflict in Georgia had clearly established the fact that the Russian Federation had invaded Georgia before Georgia had taken military action. It also confirmed that Georgian civilians and peacekeepers were under attack, on Georgian soil, before 7 August 2008. The report gave ample evidence of Russia’s military build-up in the months before August 2008, and of Russia’s political and military provocations, which violated Georgian sovereignty and international law. In addition, the report confirmed that Russian-backed forces had undertaken the ethnic cleansing of Georgian citizens. The report clearly stated that Russian military operations in 2008 appeared to most analysts to have been well-planned and well-executed, whereas the operational planning had been validated in practice during the Kavkaz-2008 and previous exercises since 2005. The report also documented that regular armed Russian forces and mercenaries had illegally crossed into Georgia before 8 August 2008.
He reiterated that the report documented in detail the Russian military build-up in the months prior to the invasion, as well as Russia’s provision of military and security assistance to South Ossetian and Abkhazian irregular proxy forces, prior to 7 August 2008. The report also documented a series of intensifying political, economic, legal and other provocations.
Also speaking in exercise of the right of reply, the representative of the Russian Federation said the representative of Georgia had taken a “selective approach” to the findings made by the European Union Commission, because in keeping with the conclusions and findings made by that mission, the main finding quite unambiguously indicated who bore full responsibility for the tragedy that had occurred, and indicated how to prevent recurrence of such criminal acts in the future. The findings of the Commission, referred to by the representative of Georgia, indicated that the start of the events in the Caucasus in August 2008 had been the commencement of the military operations, the order for which had been given by Georgian authorities, and as a result of those military operations, Russian peacekeepers and “peaceful civilians” of South Ossetia had died.
He also pointed out “a very noteworthy finding of the Commission”, according to which, the actions of Russia might be warranted by the United Nations Charter, especially Article 51, on the right of Members to undertake individual or collective self-defence. He added that he did not think the current meeting was the best forum to discuss the events, as “everyone wanted to draw their own conclusions”. However,the main finding of the report on the Georgian military aggression against peaceful South Ossetia and the complete illegitimacy of this action by Georgia was “quite obvious”.
In a further intervention, the representative of Georgia said that he “quite agreed” that those who wanted to understand in detail what had happened could do so by reading the fact-finding mission’s report, as “one must only read through it again to understand what happened”.
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