Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, in New York today:
First of all, let me congratulate Ambassador Joy Ogwu of Nigeria for the re-election as Chair of this very important committee.
I am pleased to be with you today for the opening of the annual substantive session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. This Committee is meeting for the 239th time, so we should be aware of the fact that peacekeeping is one of the flagships of the United Nations. 120,000 peacekeepers in 16 operations show the importance of this endeavour.
This year marks the Special Committee’s fiftieth anniversary. Throughout the last half century, this Committee has provided invaluable guidance to the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations, and more recently, Field Support. Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your continued cooperation with these two departments. Without this support, UN peacekeeping simply would not be able to carry out its vital, difficult and life-saving mission.
The Special Committee’s 50-year milestone is a fitting time to reflect on how to better understand conflict, address instability, and determine the appropriate peacekeeping tools, as we strive to be more efficient and effective in this dramatically changing environment.
We face attacks and asymmetric threats in places like northern Mali and Darfur, where many of our peacekeepers have lost their lives. We are also working in harsh environments plagued by the effects of climate change, and in a recent case, the pandemic Ebola crisis.
The regional security and transnational linkages associated with today’s conflicts greatly impact peacekeeping. They call for deep reflection and analysis on how we approach our work for the years and the realities ahead of us. Countless individuals, who are facing violence and are witnessing the destruction of their homes and lives, are counting on us.
In these difficult circumstances, our peacekeepers carry out demanding and extraordinary work. They are engaged in a number of diverse activities to maintain peace and bring stability, such as promoting inclusive governance, institutional development and service delivery.
Our peacekeepers engage in early peacebuilding and security sector reform. They assist in the professionalization of the defence and security sectors. They work with disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups. They protect civilians, not least women and children.
In order to ensure that we do our utmost to serve the people who need our help, we must focus on performance, as Under-Secretary-General [Hervé] Ladsous will highlight on Friday. This will require looking at and discussing issues, like expanding the base of major contributors. We must have sufficient troops and police contingents adequate equipment to address today’s peacekeeping challenges.
We must also focus on regional cooperation, as well as on cooperation between troop- and police-contributing countries, the Secretariat and the Security Council. It is crucial to maintain the dialogue among these key partners if we are to achieve the unity of purpose critical to ensuring the success of peacekeeping.
In the coming days, you will be briefed on a number of topics that are at the core of current discussions on the way forward for peacekeeping operations. In addition, I encourage you to interact next week with the three panel members of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations.
The Secretary-General established this Panel as a response to the swiftly changing environment in which we are operating and its considerable impact on how we conduct our operations. The recommendations of the Panel will, no doubt, play an important role on the way we approach peacekeeping for years to come.
United Nations peacekeeping operations are a global endeavour and responsibility. Their success is dependent on the collective will of the international community. This Special Committee is an indispensable arena and forum for co-operation and setting the course for the future. Thank you.