Special Committee Speakers Seek Clarification of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Use to Protect Peacekeepers in Increasingly Toxic Environments

GA/PK/221
18 February 2015
241st & 242nd Meetings (AM & PM)

Special Committee Speakers Seek Clarification of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Use to Protect Peacekeepers in Increasingly Toxic Environments

Continuing its 2015 session today, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations tackled a plethora of peacekeeping concerns from the use of new technology and civilian protection mandates to pre-deployment planning and training to troop reimbursement rates. 

Delegates agreed that new, more sophisticated technologies were vital to cope with the rise in hostile attacks against peacekeepers and threats to their security in hotspots around the world.  The Russian Federation’s delegate said the experimental deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo showed the merits of their use, but a full analysis of the ensuing legal, operational and financial consequences was needed before deploying them at scale.  Turkey’s representative said such equipment must be used in line with international law, the Charter and the principle of transparency. 

Venezuela’s representative added that new technologies could improve both the safety of deployed staff and their offensive capacity in hostile settings.  But their use raised concerns over who had access to the information they gathered, especially when it was provided by private companies, and whether the cost of such technologies would reduce available resources for troops.  The General Assembly must adopt clear regulations on the matter, taking into account the views of the main troop-contributing countries.

He also expressed concern that incorporating civilian protection into peacekeeping mandates diverted attention from the core peacekeeping goal of conflict resolution.  While protecting local populations was important, it encouraged the use of force and put peacekeepers in the difficult position of having to respond to threats from terrorist groups and organized crime networks operating in the areas they patrolled.   

Cuba’s representative said civilian protection was primarily a State duty and it was unacceptable to use such issues to “meddle” in internal State affairs.  Rwanda’s representative, associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said a common understanding of the matter, from policy formulation to implementation, was vital, while Serbia’s representative welcomed the 2015-2016 action plan on civilian protection of the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support.

Several speakers attached high priority to pre-deployment training and planning, especially for missions with civilian protection mandates.  Bangladesh’s representative expressed concern at a lack of consistency in decision-making and a tendency to adopt quick fixes to problems, which hindered deployment planning.  Troop contributors’ views must be considered from the start, he said, with changes in operation in line with the views of those in the field.

Japan’s delegate applauded the Military Units’ initiative to develop a set of training manuals and encouraged more active support for training peacekeepers.  For its part, Japan had begun a $40 million initiative to support the rapid deployment of engineering capabilities in Africa, and it was setting up a training hub for African troop contributors. 

Several troop-contributing countries welcomed the increase in the standard reimbursement rate for troops, with Nepal’s representative recommending a periodic review of those rates and the Philippines’ delegate suggesting that individual contingents that operated without restrictions or caveats should be awarded risk premiums, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 67/261.

The speaker from Bhutan said last year her country deployed troops for the first time to United Nations peacekeeping operations, including the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).  More troops would be deployed to a few other missions.  The move was in keeping with Bhutan’s aspiration to contribute meaningfully, albeit in a small way, to the cause of peace and security.

Other nations cited steps to bolster their contributions to peacekeeping.  In addition, a number of speakers supported India’s proposal to erect a United Nations peacekeepers memorial wall.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Kazakhstan, Zambia, Kenya, Algeria, Egypt, Nepal, Senegal, El Salvador, Tunisia, Syria, Armenia, Uruguay, Jordan, Iran, United States, Argentina, South Africa, Colombia, Republic of Korea, Sudan and Myanmar.

The Permanent Observers to the United Nations of the African Union and the International Organization of la Francophonie also spoke.

Rights of reply were exercised by representatives of Georgia, Israel, and the Russian Federation. 

The Special Committee on Peacekeeping will continue its session through 13 March.

Statements

KAIRAT ABDRAKHMANOV (Kazakhstan) said the increasing nexus between peace and development called for broadening the concept of stability, from State-centred to people-oriented security, and further, from military to non-military security — to include food, water and energy security.  Such efforts demanded more cooperation with a view towards State-building, rule of law, good governance and civilian protection.  Large, integrated and special political missions must be designed to respond to specific needs, requiring cooperation among the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, regional partners, the Security Council and States.  In addition, well-trained personnel and state-of-the-art equipment were needed in order to carry out demanding mandates.  Additionally, upholding the rights of women and girls should be clarified, with the gender component in each mission lobbying for public awareness with country leaders at all levels and phases of conflict.  The notion of “comprehensive” security — combining civil and military activities — required expertise in engineering, human rights, justice, law, gender and trauma to enable a shift in the conflict cycle from conflict prevention to a holistic peace.

KUNZANG C. NAMGYEL (Bhutan) said last year her country began making modest contributions to peacekeeping missions, deploying troops for the first time to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).  More troops would be deployed to a few other missions.  That engagement was in keeping with Bhutan’s aspiration to contribute meaningfully, albeit in a small way, to the cause of peace and security.  “We remain committed and as we acquire greater experience and wherewithal, we hope to broaden and deepen our engagement and contribution to UN peacekeeping operations,” she said.  India’s proposal to create a memorial wall to honour fallen United Nations peacekeepers was welcome.  She expressed hope that the report and findings of the High-level Independent Panel on United Nations Peace Operations established by the Secretary-General would translate into practical recommendations to strengthen peacekeeping operations.

ABULKALAM ABDUL MOMEN (Bangladesh), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that with proper mandates and resources, peacekeepers could be pivotal in encouraging steady progress, which demanded forging inclusive partnerships among the Security Council, Secretariat and the troop contributors.  Implementing civilian protection mandates in a coordinated manner required advisory assistance from all concerned.  As one of the largest troop contributors, Bangladesh attached high priority to pre-deployment training and had conducted civilian protection training for 34 participants.  As unmanned aerial systems improved the safety of United Nations peacekeepers, Bangladesh supported the use of such technologies and human intelligence in order to increase operational capabilities.  He expressed concern at a lack of consistency in decision-making and a tendency for adopting quick fixes to problems, which affected deployment planning.  Troop contributors’ views must be considered from the start, with changes in operation in line with the views of those in the field.  Bangladesh had played a critical role in United Nations peacekeeping, having contributed 127,000 personnel to 54 missions.  It had lost 118 personnel in the service of United Nations-sponsored peace, he added.

MWABA PATRICIA KASESE-BOTA (Zambia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, called her country’s contribution to peacekeeping “enormous”, in its involvement both as observer and peacekeeper.  “United Nations peacekeeping needs a new horizon,” she said, “a set of shared and achievable goals in order to deal with the new and emerging challenges.”  She expressed hope that the brief entitled “Building Capacity in Peace Operations in Response to Diversified Threats” would review the operationalization of robust endeavours.  As civilian protection was critical to political peace, an agreement that did not end violence or human rights abuses could not lead to legitimate governance.  Security-sector reform via-à-vis the rule of law in States where peacekeepers were located also required analysis, with the process carried out first in post-conflict States.

HIROSHI ISHIKAWA (Japan) stressed the importance of adhering to peacekeeping’s basic principles, adapting missions to the situation on the ground and increasing investments to leverage operational capabilities such as improving performance standards.  He welcomed the United Nations’ success, and noting the Military Units Manuals project, he encouraged more active support for training peacekeepers through bilateral, regional and triangular settings.  He welcomed the work of the expert panel on technology and innovation, and the possible inputs from technology-contributing countries.  As peacekeeping was a collective endeavour, each Member State’s comparative advantage should be employed to ensure success.  Japan would continue to support the annual Peacekeeping Operations Summit.  At the Summit last September, Japan announced a new initiative to support the rapid deployment of engineering capabilities in Africa.  His country had approximated $40 million to provide military engineering equipment to the United Nations and had set up a training hub for African troop contributors.  Towards that end, it supported the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) noted a growing and alarming trend towards the pursuit of military solutions to conflicts by developing more offensive mandates for peacekeeping operations.  Those must be integrated and focused on conflict prevention, dialogue, political reconciliation, and inclusive and sustainable development, and contain a military component.  The belief that peacekeeping’s main purpose was civilian protection diverted attention from the core peacekeeping goal of conflict resolution.  It also encouraged the use of force and put peacekeepers in the difficult position of having to respond to threats from terrorist groups and organized crime networks.  The use of modern technology could be a clear, fast solution to improve the safety of deployed staff and improve their offensive capacity in hostile settings, but that raised legal, technical and financial concerns.  It posed questions such as who had access to the information gathered through such technologies; how the confidentiality of such information was protected, especially when provided by private companies; whether peacekeeping’s guiding principles and respect for the sovereignty of the host and neighbouring countries would endure; and whether the high cost of such technology would reduce available resources for troops.  It was up to the General Assembly to adopt clear regulations on the use of new technologies, taking into account the views of the main troop-contributing countries.

MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said mandates should be restructured in a way that provided peacekeepers the freedom to protect civilians when the situation demanded.  Recently, mandates had “entangled” peacekeepers and brought the United Nations’ credibility into question.  The Organization had reported on the status of mission enablers, assets which could not be optimized without trained peacekeepers, a duty for which troop contributors usually took responsibility.  Training evaluation should be integrated into United Nations inspection and evaluation criteria, while independent teams should regularly evaluate peacekeepers during deployment.  Unmanned aerial vehicles could increase peacekeepers’ “surveillance reach” and firepower delivery.  However, trends had shown their use in terrorist activities.  The question was whether the United Nations could protect peacekeepers against such threats.  Most troop contributors lacked “technological fidelity” yet provided most of the personnel.  The United Nations must examine how to develop capabilities to protect peacekeepers.  Also, new initiatives should enable peacekeepers to carry out duties that impacted peoples’ lives in such areas as health, education and shelter.  “A peacekeeper can multitask,” he said.

OSCAR LEÓN GONZÁLEZ (Cuba), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said the Special Committee — which brought together troop- and police-contributors, host countries and Security Council members — was the appropriate forum for normative decisions on peacekeeping.  As such, it should be more involved in the current review process.  The Council was obliged to include troop contributors in the drafting, implementation and renewal of mandates.  Those countries should participate as key stakeholders, from policy-making through deployment.  A phased approach to establishing mandates would be more effective, and those should not be adopted until agreement was reached on the troops and resources needed.  On use-of-force mandates, he said those could blur the line between maintaining and imposing peace.  The use of force always had political implications and it was not sustainable solution if used in a vacuum.  Civilian protection was primarily a State duty.  It was unacceptable to use such issues to “meddle” in internal State affairs.  There must be legal agreement outlining the ethical and legal bases for using new technologies.

FETHI METREF (Algeria), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said conflicts had been complicated by difficult humanitarian and socioeconomic conditions, as well as the presence of terrorists who aimed to create national power vacuums.  As such, the Special Committee should continue discussions with a view to adapting its doctrines to ground realities.  Through its comprehensive review and policy guidance, it could make a significant contribution to such efforts.  All new trends of United Nations peacekeeping should be reflected in related State-negotiated instruments.  The Security Council’s review of mandates should not be done selectively, and human rights monitoring should be included in all peacekeeping mandates.  In addition, clear mandates should be given to foreign military contingents from States and regional organizations deployed alongside United Nations peacekeepers, including with respect to their withdrawal or reconfiguration.  The Council should support a regional approach to conflict resolution and prevention, and the United Nations should lend greater support to African Union missions by ensuring predictable and sufficient funding.

PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) expressed concern over threats to peacekeepers’ security and safety.  Incidents in Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Darfur, in particular, and the abduction of peacekeepers in the Golan called for the speedy prosecution of the perpetrators.  Close, constructive cooperation with local authorities was vital.  It was increasingly important to protect civilians, but activities towards that end should not exceed Council mandates, he said, rejecting dual interpretations of the Charter.  Existing threats to peacekeepers’ security called for the use of new technologies.  The experimental deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo highlighted the merits of their use, but a deeper analysis and a full, clear picture of the legal, operational and financial consequences was needed before deploying them at scale. 

Responding to the statement by Georgia’s representative on Tuesday, he dismissed the reference to the so-called destructive role of Russian peacekeepers in the Commonwealth of Independent States.  On the contrary, Russian peacekeepers were broadly supporting the international community, a fact that was noted by both the Council and the Secretary-General.  He deemed “disgraceful” the Georgian representative’s criticism of Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in August 2008.  Many had died after trying for 14 years to establish peace and security in the area. 

IRENE SUSAN BARREIRO NATIVIDAD (Philippines) said the findings of the Secretary-General’s report concerning the sharp increase in targeted hostile acts against peacekeepers were deeply disturbing.  Last year, 45 Fijian peacekeepers were kidnapped and 72 Filipino peacekeepers were held under siege conditions by anti-Government armed elements.  In 2013 and 2014, 59 peacekeepers were killed.  That situation could not continue.  Adequate protection must be provided to peacekeepers, along with adequate resources.  She welcomed the increase in the standard reimbursement rate for troop-contributing countries, adding that individual contingents that operated without restrictions or caveats should be awarded risk premiums, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 67/261.  Peacekeeping missions needed improved safety and security capacities, protective equipment, high-level technological assets, and enhanced capacity to address pandemics.  For its part, the Philippines had contributed $2 million to the Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund through a standard administrative arrangement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

MILAN MILANOVIĆ (Serbia), associating with the European Union, supported all efforts to ensure better protection for peacekeepers, welcoming collective steps to develop models for implementing modern technologies that enhanced missions’ capacity to fulfil their mandates and improve the safety of their personnel.  He welcomed the Secretariat’s draft policy, as well as the action plan 2015-2016 by the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support on civilian protection.  He also supported the 2014-2018 gender strategy.  Expressing hope that the Special Committee would continue to offer strategic guidance, based on consensus and within annual timelines, he said Serbia had been among the first seven countries in Europe to take part in peacekeeping missions and had “significantly” increased its participation last year.  Also last year, Serbia had held a high-level regional round table on cooperation among Western Balkan States.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said his country would host regional consultations in Cairo on 4 and 5 March for members of the League of Arab States to provide substantive input to the Secretary-General’s upcoming strategic review of peacekeeping.  He looked forward to the outcome of the consultations in February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, organized by the Cairo Regional Centre for Training on Conflict Resolution and Peacekeeping in Africa, to be incorporated into the High-level Panel’s report.  As a major troop contributor, Egypt was ready to increase its contribution.  In that, it would deploy additional infantry troops to current and newly established missions; join the United Nations Formed Police Units Standby Capacity and contribute more Formed Force Units; deploy enabling units, such as engineering, logistical, medical and transportation units, including those with rapid response capabilities; and provide training and technical expertise for the military and police personnel of other troop contributing countries.  He noted that a non-paper distributed to participants listed Egypt’s pledges for training and capacity-building in areas covering pre-deployment training, induction and mission-training for African peacekeepers, among other areas.

OLIVIER NDUHUNGIREHE (Rwanda) said that, as the fifth largest troop and police contributor with a presence in eight missions, his country was ready to improve United Nations peace operations.  Associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, he said a common understanding of civilian protection, from policy formulation to implementation, was of utmost importance.  From Mali to Somalia to the Central African Republic, “the reality is that peacekeepers are operating in an environment where there is no peace to keep”, he said, stressing that they must be equipped with tools to proactively protect civilians.  He stressed the need for better protection of peacekeepers, as well as “proactive measures” and physical ground presence as part of a “strong and persuasive” posture against extremists who used suicide bombings and other unconventional means of violence.  He supported strengthening the African capacity to address conflicts in the context of United Nations Charter’s Chapter VIII, as well as measures to increase women’s participation in peacekeeping.  Data collected by unmanned aerial vehicles should be shared with the concerned States, he said, noting that the use of such technologies did not replace the need for human intelligence.

GHANA SHYAM LAMSAL (Nepal) said that since 1958, more than 110,000 Nepalese soldiers had served in more than 40 United Nations peacekeeping missions; 69 had died in the line of duty.  Nepal was committed to implementing a zero tolerance policy in sexual abuse and exploitation cases and it was taking stringent steps against human rights abuses.  Provisions on the safety and security of peacekeepers should be built into mission mandates.  The parties to peace accords and non-State actors should be held accountable for attacks against peacekeepers.  Noting some long delays in reimbursing death and disability claims, he urged the Secretariat to complete the process on time.  Health insurance policies for deployed personnel must be reviewed periodically to address stress-related illnesses.  He also recommended a periodic review of troop reimbursement rates and their timely disbursement.  Troop-contributing countries involved in missions with civilian protection mandates should be given priority training support, which must be listed as a core capacity in the Statement of Unit Requirement and augmented by the Department of Field Support.  The current lack of resources for peacekeeping operations and the difficulty of providing troops and equipment for military operations to ensure civilian protection should be addressed.   He welcomed India’s proposal to erect a United Nations peacekeepers memorial wall.

GORGUI CISSE (Senegal), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, cited the importance of peacekeeping principles, underlining the need for proactive, multidimensional strategies to ensure operational effectiveness.  Senegal supported the Special Committee’s crucial role in maintaining peace, as the development of concepts, policies and strategies should result from an intergovernmental process.  Concerning the High-level Independent Panel for evaluating peacekeeping missions, he noted that a team had visited his country in February 2014 in preparation for African consultations on that topic in Addis Ababa.  As of January 2015, Senegal had 3,330 personnel in eight missions around the world, making it seventh-largest of 122 troop and police contributors to United Nations missions.  He called for more cooperation among the Security Council, Secretariat and troop and police contributors, as well as with regional organizations, notably the African Union, through planning support and operations management.  He also urged respect for the timely payment of troop contributors.

RUBÉN ARMANDO ESCALANTE HASBÚN (El Salvador) said peacekeepers must have adequate levels of capacity, clear and appropriate mandates, the cooperation of the host country concerned, logistical and financial resources and training.  Police- and troop-contributing countries must be fully involved in all stages of mission design, implementation, renewal and drawdown.  He called on the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to support a range of approaches to recruit new troop contributors without spurning existing ones.  El Salvador had benefitted from the deployment of the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador from 1991 to 1995.  Its experience had set an invaluable precedent in recognizing the key role of United Nations peacekeeping operations in consolidating peace.  El Salvador now had military personnel in six peacekeeping missions.  It had deployed its first aerial unit, comprising 90 men and women plus three type MD-500E helicopters, to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).  The country continued its participation in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and hoped to boost the number of Salvadoran soldiers serving in MINUSTAH from 34 to 84.  It was crucial to rekindle discussion in the Council with the overall aim of considering a new peacekeeping road map. There was an urgent need to increase the use of new technology, he said, welcoming partnerships in that area.  He called for constant review and monitoring of aerial operations supporting peacekeeping missions and, in closing, urged that reimbursements to troop contributors be timely.   

RIADH BEN SLIMAN (Tunisia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, cited a sharp deterioration in the security of peacekeeping operations and urged collective efforts to ensure peacekeepers were well-equipped and supported.  Their safety should be a top priority.  Troop contributors should be fully involved in all aspects of peace operations, he said, urging more constructive dialogue with them with a view to developing a balanced approach for addressing the evolving nature of the missions.  Troop contributors should take part in decision-making and policy formulation, be given a role in changing mandated tasks, and afforded more interaction with the Council.  A new generation of peacekeeping operations must be carried out in line with clear and achievable mandates based on consultations with troop contributors.  Tunisia also supported more cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, based on the Charter’s Chapter VIII.

IHAB HAMED (Syria) said peacekeepers must adhere to the Charter principles, as well as those for peacekeeping.  Their application must involve obtaining the consent of the host country.  While Syria supported all efforts to develop peacekeeping at all levels, those operations could not substitute for permanent conflict resolution by addressing root causes.  The primary responsibility to protect civilians rested with the host country, and thus, peacekeeping should not exceed its parameters.  In particular, civilian protection could not be a “guise” for interference in State affairs.  A commonly agreed legal definition of that concept was needed.  Israel’s occupation of Arab territories had prompted the presence of three missions in the region, which wasted the United Nations’ resources.  He called for pressuring Israel to end its occupation.  Concerned over the increased violence against peacekeepers, he said terrorist attacks in the Separation Zone had violated both the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) agreement and international law, for which Israel must take responsibility.

GIZEM SUCUOĞLU (Turkey) said the Special Committee must prioritize the issue of civilian protection, welcoming United Nations efforts to develop guidelines on that concept.  While moving towards such mandates, efforts must ensure that United Nations impartiality was not compromised.  Modern technologies, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, must be used in line with international law, the Charter and the principle of transparency.  Further, resource constraints must not make “quick fixes” more attractive, she said, urging that peacekeeping work be integrated into long-term strategies that addressed conflicts’ root causes.  The role of the Peacebuilding Commission was important and she hoped the review of the peacebuilding architecture would examine how to connect peacebuilding and peacekeeping efforts.  More cooperation among troop- and police-contributors, host States, regional organizations and the Peacebuilding Commission would maximize peacekeeping’s efficiency.  For its part, Turkey had contributed to missions in Afghanistan, Africa and the Middle East, where Turkish personnel assisted with capacity-building, technology assistance and law-enforcement training.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia) voiced concern at the growing number of attacks against peacekeepers, saying that the United Nations was increasingly obliged to ensure their security.  Questions about operational capacity, equipment, training and situational awareness were among the Special Committee’s priorities.  The diverse actors in conflict situations added an element of unpredictability to managing operations.  Missions were engaged in various functions, from civilian protection to national reconciliation to institution-building, which required a focus on capacity-building.  As a troop contributor, Armenia had significant peacekeeping experience.  It had participated in NATO-led operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan and as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), it recognized a possible peacekeeping role for that organization on a case-by-case basis.   He reiterated the invitation to the United Nations to participate as an observer in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) military exercise in Armenia in September.

CRISTINA CARRIÓN (Uruguay) said her country was committed to peacekeeping, having in 2013 increased to 2,000 the number of blue helmets in United Nations operations, making the country among the top 15 contributors.  Uruguay’s troops participated in MINUSTAH, and further, chaired the Group of Friends of Haiti.  The normative framework for improving peacekeeping lay in the Charter principles.  Sexual and gender violence was a priority.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, Uruguay participated in protection teams that patrolled remote areas to prevent rape of women and girls.  The Force Intervention Brigade in that country must be analysed in light of its impact on peacekeeping principles, especially that of impartiality.  Uruguay prioritized dialogue with all actors that affected the work of the blue helmets, she said, stressing the importance of cooperation among the Security Council, Secretariat and troop contributors.  She also urged addressing the root causes of conflict.

SONIA ISHAQ AHMAD SUGHAYAR (Jordan) said the rise of regional and international actors was fuelling inter-State conflict, which complicated the work of peacekeepers, requiring integrated strategies to ensure those complex environments were addressed by host countries, the United Nations and regional organizations.  Noting a lack of justice mechanisms for accountability, she said more resources should be allocated to support such instruments.  Further, fighting impunity should be integral to peacekeeping, which required the United Nations’ cooperation with the International Criminal Court, with the aim of holding all mass atrocity perpetrators and human rights violators accountable. 

HOSSEIN MALEKI (Iran), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said utmost care should be taken to observe the purposes and principles of the Charter when establishing any mechanism to address challenges to peacekeeping operations.  Consent of parties, non-use of force and impartiality were principles that should be fully preserved.  New concepts to address emerging demands should be formulated through an intergovernmental process and more effective safety and security arrangements for peacekeepers should be developed.  Iran fully supported the policy of zero tolerance for misconduct and sexual exploitation and abuse, he said, stressing the centrality of respect of rule of law to building peace.  Emphasizing the importance of using modern technology, he said legal, operational, technical and financial aspects should be defined with the participation of the Organization’s entire membership.  Protection of civilians was the primary responsibility of the host country and should not be used as a pretext for military intervention.

DAVID PRESSMAN (United States) said systems for designing, planning and deploying peacekeeping missions had remained too static.  Demands today required innovation to deploy missions in the most effective manner and ensure that the international community stood behind peacekeepers when they were in peril.  Pointing to the deaths of 32 peacekeepers in Mali, and the dozens wounded since the launch of MINUSMA in 2013, he condemned all violent acts against peacekeepers and civilians.  Peacekeepers were not only endangered by armed groups, but also by Government forces in the countries in which they served, he said, pointing to reports that hundreds of women had been raped by Government forces in Darfur.  UNAMID had reported the incident and attempted to investigate it, but was denied proper access to the alleged victims.  Such harassment and intimidation was a threat. 

He said the Special Committee’s task today was broader than just ensuring adequate training and resources for peacekeepers.  It must also include reaffirming collective political commitment to ensure respect for peacekeepers and the speedy clearance through customs of needed medical and operational equipment, among other things.  Several Member States had worked with the Secretariat to develop a set of manuals laying out a peacekeeping doctrine that would enable countries to develop specialized training to carry out peacekeeping tasks.  That should continue in 2015.  He called for readiness assessments for field personnel and urged the High-level Panel to focus on strengthening planning of peacekeeping operations.  In August 2014, United States President Barack Obama had announced the creation of an African peacekeeping rapid response partnership.  The United States was investing $10 million annually to build capacity in six African countries to rapidly deploy people and equipment.

MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina) said that 45,000 Argentine armed forces participated in peacekeeping operations, noting that attacks against peacekeepers must be investigated.  Argentina had proposed more in-depth discussions on the use of modern technology.  She looked forward to proposals on the rule of law, as respect for that condition had motivated Argentina’s participation in peace missions.  In that context, she noted the importance of cooperation between the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, saying that the rule of law and impunity were incompatible concepts.  To consolidate the rule of law, such cooperation must continue.  Ten peacekeeping operations had civilian protection mandates.  All actors responsible for such mandates — the Council, troop and police contributors, the Secretariat, host Governments and mission leaders — must have common expectations about the rules of engagement, especially vis-à-vis civilians under imminent threat of violence.  Cooperation among the Council, Secretariat and troop and police contributors also must be improved.  The General Assembly and the Special Committee were responsible for making decisions on policies and strategies to be implemented following the work of the High-level Panel.

MAHLATSE MMINELE (South Africa), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, noted with concern that the United Nations was beginning to face serious budgetary constraints at a time when the nature of conflicts had changed, operations had grown more complex and peacekeepers faced hostile environments.  In that context, there needed to be strong political support to peacekeeping and a concerted effort towards improving the participation of the civilian component in post-conflict activities.  The United Nations and troop contributing countries could draw lessons from their mission experiences on ways to streamline and improve early warning and rapid reaction processes.  Expressing support for efforts to promote cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, he reaffirmed South Africa’s commitment to the implementation of all resolutions relating to women, peace and security.

MIGUEL CAMILO RUIZ (Colombia), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Countries, looked forward to the High-level Panel’s recommendations.  As a police contributor since 2006, Columbia had participated in intelligence-gathering, anti-narcotics activities and community policing.  Its recent framework agreement with the United Nations would allow it to contribute troops at a suitable time.  It was in Colombia’s interest to provide trained personnel who met the highest United Nations standards.  In turn, United Nations operations must abide by both the Charter and peacekeeping principles, to ensure actions were perceived as neutral.  Peacekeeping should not be seen as biased towards any conflict party.  The use of force should be a last resort and not a precedent for future action.  Host countries were obliged to guarantee peacekeepers’ safety.  New technologies should not be seen as offensive tools, and States must discuss their use.  Dialogue among the Council, Secretariat and troop and police contributors was essential for mandate renewals, he added.

PAIK JI-AH (Republic of Korea) said peacekeeping operations must keep pace with the changing security environment and sharpen their capabilities to meet new demands.  Regional partnerships should be systematically enhanced in an effort to expedite deployment when emergencies arose.  The introduction of modern technology could improve missions’ capacity to better implement mandates, including protection of civilians.  Legal institutional frameworks must be put in place to ensure the safety of personnel and heads of missions needed to build trust with host countries.  He expressed hope that the tools and principles of the global field support strategy could be fully mainstreamed into the entire system.

ELHAFIZ EISA ABDALLA ADAM (Sudan), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country continued to cooperate with UNAMID to overcome current challenges.  Along with observing the Charter and peacekeeping principles, peacekeepers must not intervene in State affairs, he said, expressing hope they would move from traditional roles to implementing development projects that restored stability in hotbeds of tension.  In response to comments by the United States delegate, he said Sudan had carried out the necessary investigation, which had found that no rape had taken place.  The findings were also in line with the investigation carried out by the Prosecutor for Darfur.  However, those results had been found unsatisfactory “in certain quarters”.  His Government had refused attempts to start another investigation, as they only meant to criminalize the State.  He hoped the Special Committee would adopt peacekeeping recommendations.

KYAW TIN (Myanmar), associating with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), said the role of the United Nations in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding needed to be constantly strengthened.  At the same time, it was of paramount importance not to weaken the cardinal precepts of traditional peacekeeping.  Enhancing security measures for peacekeepers as well as financial and logistical support to operations was crucial to mandate implementation.  Myanmar fully supported the Secretariat’s efforts to place effectiveness and performance at the heart of the operations through a capability-driven approach.  Amid the growing complexities of conflicts and expansion of mandates, the Special Committee had challenging tasks ahead.

PAUL TIENDREBEOGO, Permanent Observer of the International Organization of La Francophonie, said the Francophonie had enshrined in their Charter conflict prevention and management.  They had committed to peacekeeping through advocacy and capacity-building for Member States.  With the growth of operations in French-speaking African countries like Mali and the Central African Republic, the participation of French speakers was crucial.  At the fifteenth Summit of the Francophonie, held in Dakar, Senegal, in November 2014, the leadership of French-speaking countries restated their commitment towards that end.  To better foster French-speaking participation in United Nations peacekeeping, the Francophonie, in March 2014, had submitted a practical guide for recruiting candidates.  The Francophonie also had developed fruitful cooperation with the African Union and European Union, and it had helped draft a strategy and operational concept for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) by placing at its disposal technical expertise.  In January 2014, the Francophonie created a network of French-speaking legal and justice experts for peacekeeping operations, and prior to that, in April, it supported a training centre on gender for military and civilian trainees from Africa to be deployed to MINUSCA.

TÉTE ANTÓNIO, Permanent Observer of the African Union, said conflicts had become more complex and asymmetrical in the last decade, creating important implications for peacekeeping.  The African Union and its Regional Mechanisms for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution had become major actors in international peace support operations.  The Union’s achievements had come at a great cost in human lives but were very cost-effective in terms of resources.  Its significant achievements came only after 2011, once the international community agreed to increase the size of missions to undertake counter-insurgency.  The type of mandate required to address challenges faced in Somalia could only emerge with a strong commitment to significant numbers of boots on the ground.  Those developments should lead to a rethinking of the principles underpinning traditional peacekeeping, as the High-level Panel convened.  Effective operations required a coordinated approach between the United Nations and regional organizations.

Rights of Reply

Exercising the right of reply, the representative of Georgia responded to remarks by his Russian counterpart, saying that what was happening in Abkhazia and South Ossetia was illegal Russian occupation.  Those troops were there without his Government’s consent.  As the Russian Federation continued its military aggression against Ukraine, it had taken steps to annex Georgian territories through concluding integration treaties that it created on Georgian soil. 

Concerning the former Georgian mission, he said its peacekeeping component had consisted exclusively of Russian troops, who were in serious breach of fundamental mandate requirements, as had been noted in a 1994 Secretary-General report.  Georgia’s attempts to make that peacekeeping force truly neutral and international had been met by “fierce” objections by the Russian Federation in the 1990s and 2000s.  That the Russian Federation was a conflict party had been seen in the transition of their troops to an illegal occupation force in 2008.

As for the Russian so-called peacekeepers as a conflict party, he said various reports, including of Russian origin, had indicated training and military equipment flowing to forces in South Ossetia and Abkhazia prior to the 2008 war.  There had been an apparent influx of mercenaries to South Ossetia and over the Caucasus range in early August, as well as the presence of Russian forces in South Ossetia prior to 8 August 2008 — in other words, before the “hot” phase of Russian hostilities.

He said other issues included the conferral of Russian citizenship to citizens of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and mass ethnic cleansing against Georgians in Russian-held territories by mercenaries who had the consent of the Russian Federation.  Georgia’s use of force in self-defence during one specific attack had been justified, as outlined in the fact-finding mission report, meaning that the Russian Federation had created two dangerous precedents:  its peacekeepers had become party to a conflict through their transformation into an occupation force, and it had vetoed, in 2009, an extension of a United Nations mission — against the request of the host nation, Georgia — in the Security Council.

The representative of Israel, responding to comments by his Syrian counterpart, said that the Syrian regime systematically terrorized its own people, using barrel bombs and scuds to level its own cities.  In contrast, Israel was treating people in the Golan Heights and field hospitals.  As for UNDOF, the Syrian army had fled in the face of Al-Nusra Front, leaving UNDOF personnel at risk.  Israel opened its gates and provided them safe harbour, in line with its commitment to peacekeeping along its borders.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his Georgian counterpart was using every opportunity to draw attention to issues outside the Special Committee’s agenda.  In Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which were purportedly occupied, there were no factual or legal grounds for such remarks.  The decisive factor for establishing occupation was control of another State’s territory — in other words:  practically supplanting local authorities with occupation forces.  Russian military operations had never done that.  No normative acts had been introduced by Russian authorities or military formations.  The report by Heidi Tagliavini had stated that the explanation of Georgia’s use of force in 2008, in response to so-called Russian invasion, had no evidence to support it.  Georgia’s use of force against Russian peacekeepers had not been in line with international law.  The Russian Federation had the right to react to attacks on its peacekeepers.  Its use of force in self-defence had been recognized as legitimate.

Responding to the statement by the Russian Federation, the representative of Georgia said that on the topic of occupation, the Russian Federation had said there was no proof that it had exercised effective control over the territories.  But what else could it be called when foreign troops were present on one’s soil without one’s consent? he asked.  Such a presence was also military aggression.

For information media. Not an official record.