Speakers in Fourth Committee Stress Need for Adjusted Mandates, Exit Strategies to Keep Up with Evolution of Modern Peacekeeping

GA/SPD/620
25 October 2016
Seventy-first Session, 15th Meeting (AM)

Speakers in Fourth Committee Stress Need for Adjusted Mandates, Exit Strategies to Keep Up with Evolution of Modern Peacekeeping

Delegate Calls for End to Multiple Operational Tasks, ‘Band-Aid Solutions’

The evolution of modern peacekeeping from simple ceasefire-monitoring into multidimensional missions, required the adjustment of mandate scales and the creation of exit strategies, speakers in the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) emphasized today as they continued their comprehensive review of peacekeeping.

A number of delegates said that the role of United Nations peacekeeping operations had evolved dramatically over the years, noting that new tasks included addressing the political, security, humanitarian and development dimensions of complex crises, as well as ensuring the implementation of comprehensive peace agreements.

In that regard, India’s representative expressed regret that United Nations peacekeeping was under tremendous stress today from factors including a multiplicity of tasks, “Christmas tree mandates” and a focus on “Band-Aid solutions”.  He declared:  “The focus of most United Nations peace operations today is merely on operational conflict management,” pointing out that hardly any priority or resources were accorded to building capacity or institutions.

Echoing that sentiment, Pakistan’s representative said that, amid increasingly volatile peacekeeping environments, innovation highlighted gaps in technology and capabilities, emphasizing that unprepared and ill-equipped peacekeepers should not be pushed into conflicts.  Consultations, preparation and knowledge of the situation on the ground must be taken into account before deployment decisions were made, he said.

Similarly, China’s representative called for a more “symmetrical safety environment”, which would require coordination with troop-contributing and host countries.  In that regard, the build-up and deployment of troops should be expedited and logistical support optimized so that operations would have adequate personnel and equipment while their image and reputation would be enhanced.

Some delegates stressed that the primary responsibility of protecting civilians lay with national Governments, and the role of the United Nations was to strengthen structures that had broken down, leading to conflict.  In similar vein, Syria’s representative declared:  “Such operations cannot be an alternative to lasting solutions,” emphasizing the need to address the root causes of conflicts objectively and with full attention.

Calling for forward movement, Ethiopia’s representative said “endless debate on semantics” should be over and the discussion geared towards practical implementation and follow-up.  There was still a long way to go in implementing the most important structural reforms needed to make United Nations peace operations fit for purpose, he pointed out.

Similarly, the representative of Cyprus called upon Member States to sustain the political momentum needed to strengthen recommendations set forth in recent reviews of United Nations peacekeeping.  Progress required concerted efforts by different actors, he said, adding that the next Secretary-General would have a special responsibility in seeking sustained support in that area.

Voicing concern about the use of new technology in peacekeeping operations, Cuba’s representative emphasized that the United Nations Charter principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States must be observed, cautioning that such technological advances must be used to complement and not replace troops on the ground.

Providing a different view, the representative of the United States differed with objections to the use of technology, noting:  “Some prefer politics over saving actual lives.”  The use of technology would enable missions to implement their mandates successfully and improve the safety and security of peacekeeping personnel, he pointed out.

Other speakers underlined the need to enhance the participation of women in peacekeeping operations, particularly at the leadership level.  Croatia’s representative said that, given their unique capabilities, women peacekeepers were able to provide invaluable contributions, including by helping to reduce conflict and by serving as community role models.  Croatia had pledged to conduct pre-deployment training for female police officers from States outside the Euro-Atlantic area, he recalled.

Similarly, Japan’s representative said that his country had recently committed to supporting United Nations capacity-building programmes for women protection advisers, who would assist mission leadership in protecting women from conflict-related sexual violence.

Also speaking today were representatives of Tunisia, Ukraine, Nepal, Argentina, Mali, Kenya, Sudan, Chile, Serbia, Uruguay, Iran, Burkina Faso and Cameroon.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was the representative of Morocco.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 26 October, to continue its comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all its aspects.

Background

The Fourth Committee met this morning to continue its general debate on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.  (For background information, see Press Release GA/SPD/619).

Statements

DANIJEL MEDAN (Croatia) said the 2015 reviews had placed political solutions and strategies at the centre of peace and security efforts, linking development issues with peacebuilding processes.  Furthermore, they underlined the need to enhance the participation of women in peacekeeping operations, particularly at the leadership level.  In that respect, it was essential to strengthen advocacy efforts for their greater inclusion, he said, adding that, given their unique capabilities, women peacekeepers were able to provide invaluable contributions, including helping to reduce conflict by acting as community role models.  During the 2015 Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping in New York, Croatia had pledged to conduct pre-deployment trainings for female police officers from States outside the Euro-Atlantic area, he recalled, noting that other priorities included enhancing the capabilities and performance of uniformed personnel and improving field support.

MOUNZER MOUNZER (Syria), while acknowledging that peacekeeping operations were effective in reducing tensions and fostering peace and security, said they must observe the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity very rigorously.  Citing the guiding principles of peacekeeping, he said operations must be conducted in coordination with host Governments.  “Such operations cannot be an alternative to lasting solutions,” he added, emphasizing the need to address root causes of conflicts objectively and with full attention.  Syria continued to support all peacekeeping efforts in successfully carrying out their mandates, he said, while stressing at the same time that the protection of civilians fell primarily on the shoulders of States and warning against interference in domestic affairs.

RIADH BEN SLIMAN (Tunisia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, called for enhanced consultations between the Security Council and troop-contributing countries on peacekeeping operations mandates, which should be clear and realistic about implementation, changes, evolution and complexities.  It was important to prevent military engagements that had not always proven effective in achieving lasting peace.  Strengthened cooperation between peacekeeping operations and the Peacebuilding Commission was essential to ensuring that the peacebuilding components of operational mandates were implemented.  Commending the increased role played by subregional and regional organizations in confronting volatile situations, he called for strengthened support for the African Union in order to consolidate its peacekeeping architecture through adequate funding and enhanced partnerships.

NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that his country had contributed more than 150,000 peacekeeping troops and police, serving in 41 missions in 23 countries since 1960.  Modern peacekeeping had evolved from simple ceasefire-monitoring into multidimensional missions addressing the political, security, humanitarian and development dimensions of complex crises, while often also ensuring the implementation of comprehensive peace agreements.  Such innovations, coupled with increasingly volatile peacekeeping environments, highlighted gaps in technology and capabilities, he said, emphasizing that unprepared and ill-equipped peacekeepers should not be pushed into conflicts.  Deployment decisions must be based on consultations, preparation and knowledge of the situation on the ground, he said, adding that, as principal stakeholders, troop-contributing countries must be fully consulted in a timely manner.  The Council must be more circumspect while mandating enforcement tasks and peacekeepers should neither take sides in a particular conflict nor be perceived as a tool of external intervention by the local population and authorities.  The Special Committee on Peacekeeping remained the most appropriate forum for discussing peacekeeping issues and consensus among Member States was critical before embarking on a new policy framework, he said, stressing the need to avoid implementing policy that was not agreed through an intergovernmental process.

ZHANG DIANBIN (China), noting that peacekeeping operations were increasingly complex, expressed hope that all Member States would study situations on the ground in order to better fulfil their mandates.  The three principles of peacekeeping — consent, impartiality and non-use of force except in self-defence — should be upheld, and the Security Council should ensure that mandates were realistic and feasible, prioritizing different operational phases in order to achieve tangible results.  The scale of mandates must be adjusted as needed and exit strategies created in a timely manner, he said, adding that communications with troop-contributing countries should be strengthened.  Pointing out that peacekeepers faced increasingly complicated security challenges, he called for a more “symmetrical safety environment”, which would require coordination with troop-contributing and host countries.  The build-up and deployment of troops should be expedited and logistical support optimized so that operations would have adequate personnel and equipment while their image and reputation would be enhanced.

VOLODYMYR HERASYMENKO (Ukraine) said it was essential that military and police training include pre-deployment and in-mission training on child protection, sexual abuse and gender-based violence.  In that vein, the Government of Ukraine was concerned about continued allegations of sexual exploitation committed by United Nations personnel, and welcomed the Secretary-General’s efforts to implement his policy of zero tolerance of sexual abuse and exploitation.  The Government also attached great importance to adequate force generation, which remained a challenge for peace operations.  A number of ideas contained in the report of the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations underscored the relevance of Ukraine’s initiative to boost the capacity of United Nations peacekeeping operations by filling in critical gaps, he said, adding that, despite Russian aggression against his country, the Government would continue its active participation in United Nations peacekeeping activities.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said now was the time for action to implement the recommendations of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations and the Secretary-General’s implementation report, emphasizing that the “endless debate on semantics” should be over and the discussion geared towards practical implementation and follow-up.  Acknowledging the small but encouraging steps taken thus far, he said there was still a long way to go in implementing the most important structural reforms needed to make United Nations peace operations fit for purpose.  To that end, Ethiopia hoped that the momentum generated over the past year as a result of the reports would “gather steam” under the newly-elected Secretary-General and his team, he said.

DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal) said the nature of operations had changed since the first peacekeeping deployment, drawing attention to the increasingly complex challenges involved.  At the same time, the world was more united, he said, noting that the international community had adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with a view to creating a sustainable life for all.  As one of the longest-serving troop-contributing country, Nepal had always responded to the personnel needs of the United Nations, having contributed more than 120,000 peacekeepers, he said, adding that pre-deployment training was provided to all Nepalese personnel.  Describing women and children as the most vulnerable segments of society, he expressed full support for the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy against sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers, and emphasized the need to increase the number of women peacekeepers, given their positive contributions to peace operations and well-known skills in building trust.

MARTIN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), emphasizing the need to reform peacekeeping operations, said it was necessary to address the growing challenges, including the absence of State authority, asymmetric warfare and the threat of terrorism posed by non-State actors.  In that regard, multidimensional operations should focus on conflict prevention and mediation, he said, adding that peacekeepers must be provided with the necessary tools to ensure the protection of civilians.  At the same time, peacekeeping operations were not designed to impose political solutions, he said, adding that they were not the right means by which to counter terrorism.

ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country was host to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), one of the Organization’s largest peacekeeping operations, since 2013.  With the situation in Mali characterized by volatility and asymmetry, the Security Council had recently adopted resolution 2295 (2016), allowing the Mission a more proactive and robust posture to carry out its mandate in accordance with the Secretary-General’s recent report.  The mandate modification had been aimed at protecting the Mission, its personnel and facilities against attacks by those hostile to peace, and did not mean that MINUSMA would have to carry out anti-terrorist tasks, he said, emphasizing that the operation did not exist for that purpose.  However, it did have the duty and responsibility to take all necessary measures to protect itself and then civilians.  The Government of Mali was glad for the mandate adjustment, but its citizens were not at all proud that Mali was described by some as the most dangerous for “Blue Helmets”.  Noting that relevant provisions of the resolution had not yet materialized, he recalled the statement by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations that the lack of armoured personnel carriers and other equipment prevented MINUSMA from carrying out its activities.  Mali’s security and long-term stability would be maintained by its national defence and security forces, and the Government was working daily on that goal with the support of its partners, he said.  In the meantime, however, it needed MINUSMA to help ensure that its national forces could deploy throughout the country.

ANTHONY ANDANJE (Kenya), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support for Security Council resolution 2304 (2016) on South Sudan as well as confidence that the Regional Protection Force would be deployed.  However, he cautioned that consent of the host country was imperative because no political or military success could be attained without it.  Noting that Kenya had contributed air assets to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in order to enhance its reach and ability to respond to imminent threats to peacekeepers, he urged the United Nations to provide predictable and sustained financial support to regional peace arrangements, as recommended by the High-level Panel on Peacekeeping Operations and the Special Committee.  He went on to report the completion of training for the Engineering Capability Squadron, as pledged by Kenya during the just-concluded General Assembly session, and to thank the Organization, Japan and Switzerland for their technical and financial support.

OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan) said any peacekeeping operation must observe full adherence to the United Nations Charter and respect the principles of sovereign equality, impartiality and non-use of force.  Drawing attention to the significantly improved security situation in Sudan’s western region, he said it was time for the African Union—United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) to start drawing down where there was no longer a need for a continued troop presence.  After its withdrawal, the mission’s tasks would be transferred to the United Nations country team, which would foster further stability and peace.  He recalled that the Government had held a conference on 10 October to review the progress made by participants in the National Dialogue, and had recognized the contributions of the different stakeholders, he said, describing the Dialogue as an opportunity to ensure national unanimity on Sudan’s future.

FIDEL COLOMA GRIMBERG (Chile) said the maintenance of international peace and security required enhanced coordination among the Security Council, the Secretariat, as well as troop-contributing and donor countries.  There was a need to undertake a sequential approach in establishing mandates, he said, emphasizing the critical importance of setting long- and medium-term objectives while ensuring that verification mechanisms were in place.  At the same time, it was essential to find innovative means by which to ensure sustainable financing if the international community wanted peacekeeping operations to address increasingly complex challenges.  Among other things, there was a need to increase the number of female peacekeepers given their positive contribution to operations.

MICHAEL MAVROS (Cyprus) called on Member States to move ahead with implementation of the recommendations set forth by the three major reviews of United Nations peace operations in order to sustain the political momentum needed to strengthen them in the coming years.  Progress required concerted efforts by different actors, he said, adding that the next Secretary-General would have a special responsibility in seeking sustained support in that area.  Cyprus had benefitted continuously from United Nations efforts to reunite it, and on the basis of its experience with peacekeeping operations, impartiality was crucial in ensuring the Organization’s credibility and helping a country effectively address the situation on the ground.  Meanwhile, the actions of the United Nations should be in line with the United Nations Charter, its resolutions, the International Court of Justice and international law, he said.

HUMBERTO RIVERO ROSARIO (Cuba), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), noted that the General Assembly played the primary role in drawing up strategies and budgetary measures pertaining to peacekeeping, and that the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations was the sole forum mandated with the broad analysis of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.  Emphasizing the importance of political independence and non-intervention in internal affairs, he said the creation of new and complex peacekeeping operations could not substitute the resolution of deep-rooted causes of conflicts because such operations constituted a temporary measure that could not break the vicious cycle of conflict.  He went on to voice concern about the use of technology in peacekeeping operations, cautioning that Charter principles, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Member States, in particular, must be observed.  Peacekeeping principles — including full consent of the country involved — must also be respected, and legal, financial as well as technical aspects must be defined in such cases.  Technology should be used to complement and not replace troops on the ground, he emphasized.

MARINE NIKODIJEVIC (Serbia) noted that peacekeeping operations were more complex than ever before, particularly in helping countries transition from conflict to sustainable peace.  Given the increasingly difficult operational environment, it was essential to optimize available resources for the successful implementation of their mandates.  Describing peacekeeping operations as among the most important instruments for ensuring lasting peace in the world, she said it was necessary nonetheless to reform their institutional base and to support efforts to increase their efficiency and performance.  Such efforts should include the use of modern technology, linking security and development, improving the protection of peacekeeping missions and ensuring greater participation by women in all phases of peacebuilding processes.

FEDERICO GONZALEZ (Uruguay), associating himself with CELAC, noted that his country ranked first in the region in terms of its contributions to peacekeeping operations.  Uruguay had hosted a regional conference in 2015 and co-hosted the ministerial defence meeting in London earlier that year.  Noting the recent increase in tensions within various Missions, such as the ones in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he emphasized the role of the Security Council in resolving them, in collaboration with the host countries.  Civilian protection was an essential task and more missions were emphasizing that aspect, which was not always reflected in the allocation of human and financial resources, he noted, stressing the importance of noting the occasions when peacekeeping operations could have done more to protect civilians and the United Nations had failed in a spectacular manner.  Underlining the necessity of investigation and accountability in that regard, he went on to note that peacekeeping operations were being deployed in increasingly complex scenarios where there was no peace to be kept and where other tools were required.  Regarding Security Council resolution 2295 (2016) renewing MINUSMA, he said that while there was a need to be attuned to threats of terrorism, it was not appropriate for peacekeeping operations to play a role in military responses to them.

DAVID PRESSMAN (United States), noting that peacekeepers had to work in areas that were more dangerous than ever before, said operations must be responsive to the needs of today.  In that regard, it was critical to reduce the gap between mandates and capacity, and to ensure cooperation with regional and subregional organizations in addressing increasingly complex challenges.  Welcoming the commitment by some countries to send 4,000 personnel for rapid deployment, he said it was necessary to enhance capabilities in order to better match needs on the ground.  At the same time, missions must be able to deploy at the earliest stage possible.  Turning to the use of modern technology, he said it would enable missions to implement their mandates successfully and to improve the safety and security of peacekeeping personnel.  As for objections to the use of technology, he said “some prefer politics over saving actual lives”, adding:  “We must do better.”  When host countries blocked access to materials and food, the international community must speak up, he said, pointing out that such actions like blocking affected survival rates, a mission’s success and troop morale.

TAKESHI AKAHORI (Japan) noted that his country had provided support for the Triangular Partnership Project by training and equipping African military engineers so they could deploy rapidly and play a key enabling role on the ground.  More than 60 African engineers had been trained in Nairobi, Kenya, earlier in the year, he added.  Japan endorsed the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse and exploitation and supported an e-learning programme for that purpose, he said, adding that it contributed to the Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.  Regarding gender and peacekeeping, he said 13 women served in his country’s contingent of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).  Female peacekeepers played a central role in ensuring cooperation with local communities, and Japan had recently committed to supporting United Nations capacity-building programmes for women protection advisers, who would provide advice to mission leadership on protecting women from conflict-related sexual violence, he said.

TANMAYA LAL (India) associated himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and noted his country’s long experience in peacekeeping operations.  Peacekeeping was under tremendous stress today from factors that included a multitude of tasks, “Christmas tree mandates” and a focus on “Band-Aid solutions”.  The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was an example of a Chapter VII mandate emerging from a fragmented Security Council, with little or no political work with the host Government and no effective consultations with troop-contributing countries, he said.  The deployment of peacekeeping missions was hardly accompanied by coordinated pressure on warring parties or those assisting them.  “The focus of most United Nations peace operations today is merely on operational conflict management”, he said, pointing out that hardly any priority or resources was accorded to building capacity or institutions.  Turning to the protection of civilians, he said primary responsibility in that regard lay with national Governments, and the role of the United Nations was to endeavour to strengthen structures whose break-down had led to conflict.  Regarding sexual abuse and exploitation, he said India had been the first country to contribute to the trust fund for victims of such conduct, but since then only three other countries had done so.  Much more musts be done on that count, he stressed.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized the need for peacekeeping missions to abide by the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.  Combatting sexual exploitation and abuse should remain a priority, with the home countries of perpetrators cooperating fully with investigations.  The protection of civilians was the primary responsibility of host countries, he said, emphasizing that any military intervention by the United Nations or foreign forces under the pretext of providing such protection was not acceptable.  The role played by regional arrangements and agencies should be in accordance with Chapter VIII of the Charter and should not substitute the role of the United Nations in any way, he stressed.  All Member States must be involved in making peacekeeping decisions and policies, he said, underlining the role of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.

MARIAME FOFANA (Burkina Faso) associated herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and noted that peacekeeping operations had taken on an unprecedented scope.  Similar to many developing countries, Burkina Faso had encountered difficulties relating to a lack of training materials, infrastructure and adequate equipment, among other challenges, she said, calling for improved operational planning, implementation of national pledges and optimized deployment.  Certain operations were taking place against a backdrop of asymmetric threats and the tendency to target peacekeeping personnel, a situation that called for adequate measures to enable Blue Helmets to protect themselves as well as their facilities and to fight back.  Their self-defence capacity must be strengthened because that was a precondition for well-conducted peacekeeping operations, she emphasized.  Africa faced many security challenges that frequently required invoking regional arrangements, as was the case in Mali and the Central African Republic, she noted.  A better interface between United Nations peacekeeping and regional mechanisms could strengthen their respective actions and thus optimize their outcomes.  Regional initiatives should receive political, financial and material support so that they would be able to act preventively and effectively when peace was threatened.

MAMOUDOU MANA (Cameroon), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country had always supported and upheld peace, having provided military police to the United Nations, African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) since the 1990s.  In 2008, Cameroon had established the International School for Security Forces, where several courses had already been organized.  The nationals of several African countries had attended, and the School had organized a full-scale training exercise on reinforcing civilian crisis management capacities in the presence of several observers.  In 2017, the School would host a Department of Peacekeeping Operations workshop on reviewing training modules for individual police officers and a staff level summary exercise, he said.  Pre-deployment training, the generation of forces and equipment and strategies for exiting crisis situations were vital in maintaining sustainable peace, he emphasized.

Right of Reply

The representative of Morocco, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said he was not concerned about the statement referring to restrictions imposed by host countries, emphasizing that the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) enjoyed full support from his country, while pointing out that Uruguay was a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

For information media. Not an official record.