Vested Interest in Operational Potential of African Peace Support Missions, Ways to Strengthen Interplay with United Nations, Central to Fourth Committee Debate

GA/SPD/569
30 October 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 17th Meeting (AM)

Vested Interest in Operational Potential of African Peace Support Missions, Ways to Strengthen Interplay with United Nations, Central to Fourth Committee Debate

As more than half of all United Nations peacekeepers were serving in Africa, the Organization should mount greater partnership with regional and subregional organizations across the continent, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today, as issues of personnel security, clear mandates, use of new technologies and gender mainstreaming also informed debate.

As the Committee continued its comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations, the representative of Senegal noted the role played by the African Union in several peacekeeping operations, and stressed the need to strengthen its relationship with the United Nations.  The delegate from China echoed that call, noting that more than half of all peacekeepers were serving in the continent.

Along similar lines, the representative of Burkina Faso said that the upsurge of conflicts around the world presented new challenges to the management of peacekeeping operations, including in the areas of protection of civilians and respect for human rights.  Thus, constant attention should be paid to mandates, concerns of troop- and police-contributing countries, and security of personnel.

In view of the complex nature of conflicts across Africa, said Kenya’s representative, regionally arranged or multinational models for peacekeeping were unlikely to change.  In those conflicts sound multinational support should be provided through interagency interaction, taking into account political, economic and socio-cultural or security challenges.  Future missions might need to consider counter-terrorism and/or asymmetric warfare as an alternative peacekeeping model.

Welcoming, along with several speakers, the Secretary-General’s plan to conduct a comprehensive review of peace-keeping operations, the representative of Liberia said the exercise was necessary to look back on achievements and strategize ways of deploying new tools to meet new challenges.

On safety, the representative of Singapore said peacekeepers must have the capacity to protect themselves through the provision of better training, technology, equipment, intelligence and information.  Along those lines, the representative of Ukraine encouraged the Secretariat to make the best use of the Special Committee’s recommendations, including to enhance legal mechanisms to investigate and prosecute crimes committed against United Nations peacekeepers.

With regard to the use of new technologies, the delegate of Argentina said drones could prove useful provided they were used on a case-by-case basis in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter.

Speakers also underlined the importance of mainstreaming gender into peacekeeper operations, with Norway welcoming the joint gender forward-looking strategy of the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support and the appointment of the first United Nations female commander.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Switzerland, Sudan, Mali, United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of Congo, Viet Nam, Rwanda, Israel, Japan, Sierra Leone, Chad, Kyrgyzstan, the Maldives, and Iran.

The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 31 October, to conclude 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.  For background, see Press Release GA/SPD/568 of 29 October.

Statements

MAY-ELIN STENER (Norway) said that reports of brutal killings, serious violations of human right, and deliberate attacks on peacekeepers were very worrying.  The United Nations struggled to recruit personnel and mobilise resources to respond to increasingly demanding mandates.  However, she was encouraged by the broad consensus to make peace operation more effective.  She welcomed the review panel, and hoped it would focus on the following points: mandates should be more strategic and should not seek to compensate for political inaction; the implementation of key tasks such as the protection of civilian must be based on the situation on the ground.  Training was vital to ensure a uniform approach and for the protection of civilians and the safety of United Nations personnel.  She praised All Sources Information Fusion Unit of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which had strengthened the Mission’s capacity to protect civilians.  The use of unmanned aerial system in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) enabled peacekeepers to respond to a wider range of threats.  Partnerships with regional organizations were crucial and priority should be given to the African Union.  The United Nations should also continue to engage with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the European Union and other relevant partners.  On the question of gender perspective, Norway welcomed the joint gender forward-looking strategy of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations/Department of Field Support (DPKO/DFS) and the appointment of the United Nations first female commander. 

PAUL SEGER (Switzerland) welcomed the Secretary-General’s intention to include special political missions in the upcoming review of peacekeeping operations, noting that they had increasingly become a crucial form of the Organization’s engagement in the field.  Looking at peacekeeping operations alone would not give the whole picture.  A review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture was scheduled for 2015 as well.  The simultaneity of the two reviews should be mutually enriching, create synergies and utilize complementary expertise.  The high-level panel on the peacekeeping review should also look beyond the peace and security agenda and consider how the Organization delivered as one in integrated missions involving humanitarian and development activities.  In that context, current discussions on the post-2015 development agenda and the protection of civilians were relevant to the peacekeeping review.  He also welcomed the establishment of DPKO’s Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation as the introduction of modern technologies came with challenges but held enormous promises.

MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya) said the current models of peacekeeping operations would continue to be sustained, particularly for ongoing missions.  In view of the complex nature of conflicts across Africa, regionally arranged or multinational models for peacekeeping were unlikely to change.  In those conflicts sound multinational support should be provided through interagency interaction, taking into account political, economic and socio-cultural or security challenges.  Future missions may need to consider counter-terrorism and/or asymmetric warfare as an alternative peacekeeping model.  The emergence of private military companies and private security companies and their impact on the different aspects of peace support would also need to be addressed.  Contingent pre-deployment training should cover human rights, child protection, sexual and gender-based violence and there should be a deliberate effort to implement Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) to fully incorporate the gender aspect in peacekeeping operations.  The lack of participation of Western nations in African peacekeeping and peace enforcement must be addressed, he said, expressing appreciation for the recent upward review of troop reimbursement.  However, troops deployed for peacekeeping could only be efficient if complemented with operationally appropriate resources.  The consent of a host Government for peacebuilding operations could not be taken for granted.

YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) aligning with the European Union, expressed concern over the declining attention paid to safety and security during the procurement of commercial helicopters.  He encouraged the Secretariat to make the best use of the recommendations included in the C-34 report, including the enhancement of legal mechanisms to investigate and prosecute crimes committed against deployed United Nations peacekeepers.  In addition, expanded political backing was needed for the participation of United Nations Police assistance in post-conflict settings.  Ukraine fully supported a Member States-led Group of Friends of United Nations Police.  Ukraine was encouraged by the outcome of the recent United Nations Summit on Peacekeeping and was ready to contribute to the follow-up, which he hoped would reconvene in one year around the Assembly’s 2015 session.  Ukraine had begun its third decade of peacekeeping engagement by participating in more than 20 missions under the United Nations mandate and had contributed more than 34,000 “Blue Helmets” to peacekeeping efforts around the world.

LIM MING JING (Singapore), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said her country might be small, but would always contribute in niche areas.  Its armed forces and police had served in 15 peacekeeping and observer missions since 1989.  Singapore was the seventh country to sign up for the Combined Task Force 151, which aimed to disrupt piracy and armed robbery at sea.  It was currently chairing the Maritime Working Group for the United Nations Military Unit’s initiative to develop peacekeeping manuals and participating in the Aviation and Engineer Working Groups as well.  A major challenge for peacekeeping operations was to ensure the safety of personnel, who must have the capacity to protect themselves through the provision of better training, technology, equipment, intelligence and information.  Another challenge was to ensure that peace and security were sustainable.  Peacekeeping operations were not meant to be permanent.  Host countries or regions should develop a sense of ownership for their long-term peace and security.

ELHAFIZ EISA ABDALLA ADAM (Sudan), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, underscored his country’s unprecedented cooperation with African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).  The United Nations must aid the return and reintegration of internally displaced persons and refugees.  Despite the fact that rebel groups in Darfur continued to terrorize population, his country had been able to conduct an inclusive dialogue and foster the peaceful movements of people, introducing solutions to the nation’s problems.  Sudan had adopted cooperation and agreements with South Sudan for the transfer of humanitarian assistance across their joint border.  He reaffirmed his support for peacekeeping operations and reiterated the need to respect the Governments of the countries hosting such operations and to not intervene in those States’ affairs.  Sudan reserved the right to defend itself.  Settling conflicts peacefully required a better understanding of the problems in the field.

WANG MIN (China) said that, while 66 years of United Nations peacekeeping operations had brought gratifying results, new complexities now brought new challenges.  Welcoming the Secretary-General’s recently announced review, he stressed the need for broad consensus that would bring effective results.  The Hammarskjold principles of peacekeeping must be adhered to.  The sovereignty of the host country must be respected and its concerns addressed.  Mandates should be practical and should specify priority tasks and efficiency should be enhanced by strengthening cooperation and coordination among all stakeholders.  Capacities of peacekeeping operations should be strengthened through training centres, improved security and application of new technologies.  Cooperation with regional and subregional organizations should be strengthened.  As more than half of all peacekeepers were serving in Africa, there should be greater partnership with the African Union.  Detailing China’s contributions to peacekeeping operations, including in response to the recent Ebola outbreak, he reaffirmed his country’s continuing commitment and support.

DIANGUINA DIT YAYA DOUCOURÉ (Mali), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that peacekeeping operations had become more complex and were operating in increasingly difficult environments.  Implementation of mandates to protect civilian populations as well as the safety of the United Nations personnel was a big challenge.  In the case of MINUSMA, deliberate attacks on contingents had become a daily reality.  With that in mind, peacekeeping missions should be authorized to carry out offensive operations in order to protect themselves and civilians.  In MINUSMA should receive the human, financial, and equipment support required to address challenges on the ground.  He reiterated his country’s commitment to work with the international community to end attacks against peacekeepers and human rights violation.  He thanked all countries that had contributed troops and paid tribute to the men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty.

RAMADHAN MWINYI (United Republic of Tanzania), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that peacekeeping cost more than $8 billion a year, but the amount was a fraction of the annual defense expenditure of the Western world.  It thus followed that peacekeeping was an extremely cost-effective technique to seek peace.  Most of the 16 active missions now were under Chapter VII, possibly allowing peacekeepers to dispense with their protection mandates more ably than they would have done much earlier than the mid-1990s.  That reality required more political will and coherent guidance.  Africa hosted nine of those 16.  The enormous cost in precious human life associated with the conflicts remained incomparable.  It was imperative, he said, to debunk altruism beginning to appear in the peacekeeping debate. 

The use of force under Chapter VII was neither a new thing nor simply related to turning peacekeeping into a war-fighting enterprise, he said.  The United Nations Operation in Congo (ONUC) from 1960 to 1964 was the first mission to see the application of a peace enforcement mandate, and was instrumental in preventing the disintegration of a fragile, newly independent country emerging out of colonial domination that was known today as the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In the three times that the United Nations deployed in that country, the mission always began with Chapter VI-and-a-Half mandates, only to see them becoming more Chapter VII mandates later.  Given the circumstances, the decision to deploy to MONUSCO a force intervention brigade was therefore both appropriate and feasible.

HAMADE BAMBARA (Burkina Faso) said the upsurge of crises and conflicts around the world had posed new challenges in the management of peacekeeping operations, including in the areas of protection of civilians and respect for human rights.  Constant attention needed to be paid to mandates, concerns of troop- and police-contributing countries, and security of personnel.  The African Union and regional organizations had made remarkable contributions to peacekeeping in the continent, which underscored the need for further coordination with the United Nations.  With 2,000 troops, Burkina Faso ranked sixteenth among contributor nations, he said, adding that the country had been contributing to training of penitentiary personnel.

GASTON KIMPOLO (Congo) said that the Committee was the appropriate framework to discuss current and future challenges of peacekeeping operations, such as the need to focus on the safety of peacekeepers and civilian populations, discuss the management of post-conflict situation and increase the reimbursement rate for troop-contributing countries.  Troop contributors should be involved in the preparation, planning, decision-making and evaluation of the missions in which they served.  Congo had demonstrated its commitment to peace by its participation in MINUSCA and by hosting reconciliation talks on the crisis in the Central African Republic.  He reiterated his country's commitment to work with the Committee for the implementation of peace worldwide.

NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said her country had joined the community of troop-contributed countries last June by sending two peacekeepers to the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).  The Viet Nam Peacekeeping Centre had been established to coordinate the training, preparation and deployment of future peacekeepers.  In the face of the evolving nature of conflicts, peacekeeping operations had constantly expanded in size, mandates and complexity.  Their success required strict adherence to the purposes and principles of the Charter and universally recognized guidelines, including respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference.  Sustainable peace and stability could be best achieved by addressing the root causes of conflict on the basis of dialogue, reconciliation and peaceful settlement of disputes.  Stressing that new risks were emerging with complex and multifaceted dimensions, she said Viet Nam looked forward to the upcoming comprehensive review announced by the Secretary-General.

OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE (Rwanda) associating with the Non-aligned Movement, said that as the fifth-largest troop contributor and the largest provider of female peacekeepers, Rwanda had a vested interest in the safety of the women and men in the field.  The scale of United Nations peacekeeping today was enormous; peacekeepers faced complex, modern threats such as armed groups, transnational crime, and terrorist organizations.  As a non-permanent member of the Security Council for the last two years, his country had shared its experience as a troop-contributing country.  Witnessing first-hand how a United Nations Mission had failed to protect civilians, he reiterated that nothing mattered more that the protection of innocent lives.  Proper equipment and pre-deployment training had a significant role in ensuring the safety and security of peacekeepers.  It was critical to remedy delayed reimbursement of funds due troop- contributing countries.   Rapid deployment and cooperation with regional organizations was crucial to peacekeepers’ ability to respond to crises.  Given that the majority of the peacekeeping budget went towards addressing conflicts in Africa, Rwanda was determined to do its part to build up the continent’s capacity to respond to volatile crisis. 

MATEO ESTREME (Argentina), associating with Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said peacekeeping operations were constantly facing new challenges to which the United Nations had been adapting.  The reality of peacekeeping operations today demonstrated the need for continuous deliberation on ways of improving efficiency.  Welcoming the Secretary-General’s announcement of a comprehensive review, Argentina was awaiting the scope, terms and mandate, on which the effectiveness of the recommendations would rely.  Diagnosing challenges was easier than identifying solutions, he said, adding that one of the key issues was that of use of force.  Multinational forces should be devised based on consultations among all Member States in an effort to boost operational efficiency and safety.  On use of new technologies, he said drones could prove useful provided they were used on a case-by-case basis in line with the principles of the Charter.  If Member States were truly committed to strengthening peacekeeping operations, they should then also provide the financial resources required.

IBRAHIMA SORY SYLLA (Senegal), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the work carried out by Blue Helmets deserved to be recognized for its true value.  The traditional principles of peacekeeping operations — impartiality and the non-use of force — became inoperable in the current context of intra-State conflicts, non-state Actors, and violence that spared no one.  Senegal’s contribution to peacekeeping was impressive, with more than 2,800 personnel deployed.  Recognizing the important role of women in peacekeeping operations, he emphasized that their participation should be at all levels, while also welcoming the initiative to prevent and condemn sexual violence.  Cooperation with troop contributing countries was essential, he said, noting the need to have robust and clearly defined mandates.  Strengthen relations between the United Nations and the African Union, to support African peacekeeping operations, were also critical.  Senegal appreciated the progress made in the reimbursement rates of troop contributing countries.

ISRAEL NITZAN (Israel) said the global security landscape had shifted dramatically, especially in the Middle East, where violent extremists had waged a brutal war to challenge the existing regional and world order.  As the violence in Syria sent shockwaves throughout the region, Israel, guided by its commitment to the United Nations mission, opened its gate and provided the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) safe harbour.  He thanked the troop contributing countries that stepped forward and took part in maintaining the Organization’s strategic presence despite recurrent attacks on soldiers.  Israel and the Jewish people had suffered too much in the past to be indifferent to the suffering of another people today, he said, adding that his country was one of the few providing direct humanitarian aid to victims of Syria’s civil war.  Israel valued the efforts of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) as a stabilizing line, he said, adding that the relative calm in south Lebanon was deceptive while Hezbollah challenged resolution 1701 (2006).

Raising a point of order, the representative of Syria said the Israeli speaker’s allegations had nothing to do with the issue of peacekeeping under discussion.

The representative of Israel stated that since UNDOF was deployed in the area, his comments were relevant.

Raising a point of order a second time, the representative of Syria stated that Israel’s representative was wasting the Committee’s time by persisting in irrelevant comments.

To that, Israel’s representative said he was merely responding to comments made yesterday by Syria’s representative.

ANTHONY BOSAH (Nigeria), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said peacekeeping operations needed to embrace innovative tools to deal with new challenges.  The use of un-manned aerial vehicles was an innovation that could limit peacekeepers’ risks while expanding their capability to protect civilians in conflict zones.  He supported the establishment of the expert panel on technology and innovation to look at areas where peacekeeping could use technology and encouraged more discussion among relevant United Nations bodies and troop and police contributing countries.  The successes of women deployed in peacekeeping demonstrated the unique experiences and capability they brought to field operations.  Yet women peacekeepers made up only 3 per cent of military peacekeepers and 9 per cent of United Nations police component.  There was a need to go beyond isolated approaches by increasing women’s participation and integrating them into leadership positions.  Nigeria welcomed Assembly resolution 68/281, which authorized an increase in troop reimbursement rates.

HIROSHI ISHIKAWA (Japan) said that the United Nations peacekeeping tasks had evolved as contemporary operations became multidimensional.  Reshaping the configuration of the elements within peacekeeping operations, special political missions, and United Nations country teams, as well as regional and bilateral support functions based on specific situations, would help achieve a better allocation of the limited financial and human resources.  On strengthening peacekeeping operations, his country supported the ongoing initiative on military capability standards manuals.  The need to become more active in training peacekeepers through bilateral, regional and triangular settings was important.  The rapid deployment of military enablers was an urgent challenge; he also added that the lack of synchronicity between deployment and enablers had endangered several missions.  His county was committed to providing support on operational training and promoting triangular partnership, and supported the United States-led initiative and the African peacekeeping rapid response partnership.

ALHUSINE MOHAMMED SESAY (Sierra Leone), aligning with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Blue Helmets underscored the world’s collective will and efforts to promote peace and stability.  The Brahimi Report of 2000 provided a valuable assessment of peacekeeping operations of that period and its practical recommendations led to the improvements in such areas as justice, security sector reform and local institutional building.  However, the nature and characteristics of crises continued to change amid challenges posed by organized crime, illegal trade in small arms and light weapons, human and drug trafficking and maritime piracy.  He commended the Secretary-General’s responsive action to those evolving circumstances and expressed hope that the review would attend to the need for clear and realistic mandates and the provision of timely and adequate resources, as well as the enhancement of troop capabilities.  The speedy response to the Ebola emergency, if maintained in future threats, gave hope and promise for the future of peacekeeping.

AHMAT ALI ADOUM (Chad), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, and speaking in his national capacity, said peacekeeping operations had changed from traditional mission to multi-dimensional operations with increasingly complex tasks.  His country welcomed the development of offensive operations such as MONUSCO and the rapid intervention brigade.  Those initiatives had shown their effectiveness in the case of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with the fight against M23.  He added that peacekeeping operations of the African Union should have a mandate to impose peace and provide the Government in place with the support needed to maintain territorial integrity.

In settling crises, he encouraged a deeper commitment between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, as well as a strong partnership with the African Union.  The United Nations should take into account the demands of financing for African Union peacekeeping operations.  The safety and security of all personal deployed was critical to effectively carrying out mandates.  The need to strengthen peacekeeping operation to fight asymmetric threats was crucial, and he encouraged MINUSMA to find ways to protect its troops from such threats.

MARJON V. KAMARA (Liberia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said peacekeeping, since its inception, had contributed immensely to the maintenance of international peace and security.  A comprehensive review was necessary to look back on achievements and strategize ways of deploying new tools to meet new challenges.  In the event of inability by States to protect their people, the international community had a responsibility to do so.  However, peacekeepers faced various threats, and there was a need for proper training and reimbursement, among other things.  Continued interaction with regional organizations and within the United Nations was necessary in view of the emerging challenges.  As a beneficiary of United Nations peacekeeping, Liberia remained grateful to the Organization and to all countries that provided personnel.  In a small but important way, Liberia had contributed to peacekeeping by sending troops to Mali.

NURAN NIYAZALIEV (Kyrgyzstan) said that experience had shown that peacekeeping operations had made a large contribution towards achieving lasting peace.  He reiterated the importance of the principles of the Charter such as State sovereignty, non-interference and non-use of force.

He welcomed the use of new technologies, but added that it needed to be studied further to ensure that it would be used in a balanced manner.  Peacekeeping operations should be carried out to facilitate peace during a post-conflict period and lead to sustainable development.  His country noted that protecting peacekeeping staff was crucial, and underscored the importance to maintain the highest medical standards to protect those in the field from diseases.  His country would continue to work closely with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support.

AISHATH SHAHULA (Maldives) said that, in its continuing its engagement with United Nations, her country had signed a Memorandum of Understanding in May on Contributions to the United Nations Stand-by Arrangement System.  That emphasized Maldives’ global commitment to peace and security as well as cooperation within the United Nations system.  Over the next two years, military observers, as well as infantry from the Maldives, would be wearing the blue helmets abroad.  The country’s defence force had longstanding experience in the protection and surveillance of its vast, open sea borders and would be a valued addition to the United Nations.  The Maldives viewed peacekeeping as an integral part of the United Nations mandate, she said.

HOSSEIN MALEKI (Iran), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country accorded priority to the safety and security of United Nations peacekeepers in the field in light of the worsening security situation prevailing in many field missions and condemned all attacks on personnel.  The General Assembly had the primary role within the United Nations system in formulating concepts, policies and budgetary matters related to peacekeeping operations.  The Committee on Peacekeeping Operations was the only forum mandated to review comprehensively the whole situation, discuss issues and policies, and make the best contribution in forming tailored responses to emerging issues.  Emphasizing the importance of adherence to the Charter, he acknowledged the necessity of adopting new concepts and ideas to address emerging needs and demands.  Those should be consistent with principles, guidelines and terminology governing the peacekeeping operations and agreed upon in the relevant intergovernmental negotiating process.  Troop and police contributing countries should be given a greater role in the decision-making process, and peacekeeping should not be turned into peace enforcement.  The use of force in a mission must under no circumstances jeopardize the strategic relations between the host country and the mission.

For information media. Not an official record.