The United Nations must be more flexible, nimble and pragmatic in creating and managing peacekeeping operations in order to better prevent conflict and protect civilians in an increasingly complex world, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations heard today as it opened its 2017 substantive session.
Peacekeeping must do no harm and must earn the confidence of local populations, said Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Chef de Cabinet, on behalf of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Condemning the blight of sexual exploitation and abuse by some peacekeepers that had harmed the lives of civilians and damaged the Organization’s credibility, she said the Secretary-General had worked hard to make zero tolerance of those acts a reality.
“We should not give people caught up in harrowing situations the illusion of protection,” she added. Stronger efforts were needed to prevent conflicts from erupting or spinning out of control, especially at the critical moment of transition when troops left a country. Achieving gender parity in the field was also crucial as greater numbers of women in peacekeeping had proven to bolster credibility, protection reach, and relationships with communities, while curtailing incidents of sexual abuse. She encouraged the Special Committee to consider carefully the peace and security reviews’ recommendation, as echoed in Security Council resolution 2242 (2015), to move beyond the current level in which just 3 per cent of peacekeepers were women.
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous said the Organization’s 16 peacekeeping operations must modernize and be more professional. The current session of the Special Committee — mandated to review United Nations peacekeeping issues and report its finding to the General Assembly — provided an opportunity to study and take stock of progress in implementing the recommendations of the High-level Panel on Peace Operations and the Secretary-General’s related report on the current state of the peacekeeping architecture. He expressed hope that “in the days and weeks ahead that, as you negotiate, you’ll be able to achieve a common vision, go beyond your differences, all on behalf of the greater good, and of the values of peacekeeping.”
Committee Chair Antony Bosah (Nigeria), expressing confidence that the current session would be more productive than in past years, said the success of peacekeeping required close coordination of all partners, including police- and troop-contributing countries, the Secretariat, Security Council and Member States that funded the operations.
Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare said the Special Committee had reached agreement on 27 recommendations and approved a range of measures to improve the quality and efficiency of operations while the Working Group had considered a record 104 proposals. After approval by the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), suggestions could be implemented beginning on 1 July.
As the Special Committee opened its general debate, delegates agreed on the need for fresh approaches to prevent conflict, create durable peace and shield civilians from harm while protecting peacekeepers. They endorsed the call to root out sexual abuse by troops and the merits of involving more women in all facets of conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
Canada’s representative, also speaking for Australia and New Zealand, said that as sustaining peace was at the core of the United Nations and critical to designing peacekeeping operations, its meaning must be better defined in practice at Headquarters and in the field. Moreover, amid the high rate of fatalities and injury, troops and police must be physically and mentally equipped to address challenges before, during and after their time in the field, he said, calling for high quality health services, better training and approaches to “put mental health and United Nations peacekeeping on our collective radar”. Switzerland’s speaker stressed the need to rapidly finalize common security policies and to set up a single spectrum of peace operations, including funding through a single account.
Some delegates, however, cautioned that only the Special Committee could make policy changes and it must have Member States’ backing to do so. Morocco’s representative, speaking for the Non-Aligned Movement, reiterated a call on the Secretariat to refrain from implementing streams of policies that had not been agreed on. Argentina’s speaker stressed the usefulness of consulting troop-contributing countries on policies and guidelines in the field, as they would have to implement them. In 2017, the Special Committee must conclude its review of the High-level Panel’s recommendations and adopt a substantive report on the matter, he said. To that end, he proposed that the review included a paragraph indicating that operations should not engage in counter-terrorism initiatives, a concern echoed by other speakers.
Colombia’s representative, relaying recent success in ending 50 years of war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (FARC-EP), noted the benefits of the tripartite mission in her country — the first of its kind — comprising the Government, FARC-EP and the United Nations. Involving indigenous and Afro-Colombian minorities — those most affected by the conflict — had been crucial to the success of the Government-led peace process. She called for more gender balance in peacekeeping and special political missions, with more women in the role of Special Representatives of the Secretary-General in those areas, adding that the presence of female civilian and military observers had been crucial in ensuring that everyone had joined the peace process in Colombia.
At the outset, the Special Committee elected by acclamation Mr. Bosah (Nigeria) as Chair and as Vice-Chairs Mateo Estreme (Argentina), Michael Grant (Canada), Takeshi Akahori (Japan) and Margareta Kassangana-Jakubowska (Poland), and Mohammed Halima (Egypt) as Rapporteur. It was decided that Mr. Grant would serve as Chair of a Working Group of the Whole to consider the Special Committee’s work and submit its recommendations for inclusion in the entity’s report to the General Assembly. The Special Committee also approved its programme of work for the session.
Many speakers throughout the day-long meeting expressed their condolences over the death of Vitaly Churkin, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, who died on 20 February.
Also speaking today were the representatives of El Salvador (on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), Indonesia (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), South Africa, Mexico, Turkey, Philippines, Norway, Egypt, Guatemala, Pakistan, China, Uruguay, Peru, Thailand, India, United States, Cuba, Japan, Mali and Ethiopia, as well as the European Union.
The Special Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 22 February, to continue its session.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI, Chef de Cabinet, delivering a statement on behalf of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, said peacekeeping was a partnership in which Member States deployed their military and police capabilities. In the current 16 operations that demonstrated the breadth of the Organization’s responses to conflicts, Member States had put the lives of their citizens on the line to transform conflict into sustainable peace. That was a profound expression of commitment to collective security, she said, paying tribute to the thousands of dedicated troops, police and civilian personnel who ventured to the frontlines of conflict and risked their lives to carry out the mandates given to them by the Security Council.
She said peacekeeping must do no harm and must earn the confidence of local populations. Condemning the blight of sexual exploitation and abuse by some peacekeepers that had harmed the lives of civilians and damaged the credibility of the United Nations, she said the Secretary-General had worked hard to make zero tolerance of those acts a reality. In its work, the United Nations must be more nimble, pragmatic and flexible in its ability to plan, launch and manage a more diverse range of operations. “We should not give people caught up in harrowing situations the illusion of protection,” she added. Highlighting the importance of focusing more attention on the critical moment of transition when operations leave a country, she said much more must be done to prevent conflicts from erupting or spinning out of control.
Achieving gender parity was also critical in the field, she continued, emphasizing that greater numbers of women in peacekeeping had been proven to bolster credibility, protection reach, and relationships with communities. More women in peacekeeping operations also led to a decrease in incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse. She encouraged the Special Committee to consider carefully the 2015 peace and security reviews’ recommendation, as echoed in Security Council resolution 2242 (2015), to move beyond the current level in which just 3 per cent of peacekeepers were women.
HERVÉ LADSOUS, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said peacekeeping clearly played a critical role in maintaining international peace and security and collective interests included ensuring that the operations remained relevant, flexible and capable of quickly responding to needs. It was also in the collective interest to pursue an agenda of modernization and greater professionalism and to adapt operations to the changing global context. The Special Committee’s current session was particularly important as it was an opportunity to study recommendations of the High-level Panel on Peace Operations and the Secretary-General’s related report while taking stock of the status of their implementation to date and prospects for the near future. There could be no improvements, reform or results in adapting peacekeeping operations without the input of Member States.
The Special Committee, he said, was an essential channel to enable Member States to express their vision of what peacekeeping should be. The volume of reports before the Special Committee was unprecedented, indicating the seriousness with which Member States viewed their role in the session’s work. He expressed hope that “in the days and weeks ahead that, as you negotiate, you’ll be able to achieve a common vision, go beyond your differences, all on behalf of the greater good, and of the values of peacekeeping,” which was more than ever before a critical tool for international peace and security.
ATUL KHARE, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, said the Special Committee had reached agreement on 27 recommendations and approved a range of measures to improve the quality and efficiency of operations. The Working Group had considered a record 104 proposals and it had been able to reach agreement within the allocated time. The Working Group’s report and related Special Committee report would be submitted to the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) for approval, with implementation set to begin on 1 July. Peacekeeping required a strong partnership and cooperation with the Secretariat. Saying it was essential to remember the needs of peacekeepers in the field, he called on the Special Committee to provide clear direction and a strong commitment of support.
ANTHONY BOSAH (Nigeria), Chair of the Special Committee for Peacekeeping Operations, said the United Nations peacekeeping apparatus was striving to provide a dynamic response to increasingly complex times. The Special Committee must set the trail and consolidate the reforms that had been desperately sought to meet the challenges of peacekeeping operations. Highlighting recent progress, he expressed confidence that the current session would be more productive than in past years. The success of operations required coordination of all units involved, including police- and troop-contributing countries, the Secretariat, Security Council and Member States that funded peacekeeping initiatives.
YASSER HALFAOUI (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, called for a more cautious approach to addressing developments and changes in peacekeeping. Recognizing efforts that were made to consult and inform Member States, he said discussing such sensitive topics could have serious implications on troops on the ground and on the perception of United Nations presence by host populations and authorities. The Special Committee must be the only United Nations forum mandated to review comprehensively peacekeeping operations in all its aspects, including measures aimed at enhancing the Organization’s capacity to carrying out operations. Consensus among Member States on the development of policies must be sought and obtained, he added, reiterating the Movement’s call on the Secretariat to refrain from implementing streams of policies that had not been agreed on. He supported all efforts aiming at achieving the effectiveness of operations, emphasizing that establishing any peacekeeping endeavour must strictly observe the United Nations Charter principles.
He said respect for the principles of sovereign equality, territorial integrity of all States and non-intervention in domestic matters should be equally upheld. Calling for the Security Council’s commitment to draft achievable mandates, he said the link between policy formulation and implementation on the ground was paramount to achieving success. Also critical was effective triangular cooperation between troop- and police-contributing countries, the Secretariat and the Security Council. Strongly condemned all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse committed by United Nations personnel in peacekeeping operations, he reiterated support for the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy, while reaffirming that investigations and prosecutions lay within the national jurisdiction of the concerned States. Peacekeeping operations should not be used as an alternative to addressing the root causes of conflicts, he said, adding that the use of force predated the discussions on effective peacekeeping.
HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador), speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said United Nations peacekeeping operations were not an end in themselves, but a political instrument to achieve negotiated solutions that led to sustainable and lasting peace. Emphasizing that all operations should strictly observe United Nations Charter purposes and principles, he underscored that missions must be provided from the outset with political support, sufficient human and financial resources and clearly defined mandates. Changing patterns of violence and increasingly volatile security situations had resulted in a significant spike in the number of deaths of peacekeepers. Clear exit strategies were essential and must assess the timing of transitions while considering that peacekeeping operations were a temporary measure for generating a security framework. Commending the people of Haiti for democratically electing a president on 7 February, he reiterated El Salvador’s commitment to help that country move along the path of peace and sustainable development.
Reiterating the link between peace and development, he highlighted a need to strengthen coordination between peacekeeping operations and the United Nations peacebuilding architecture, in particular with the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as all the specialized agencies of the United Nations. Women and youth were indispensable in conflict prevention and resolution efforts, he continued, stressing the need to promote their full participation in such activities. Reaffirming that the primary responsibility for protecting civilians lay with host countries, he said that the legitimate need to protect civilians should not be used to override the principle of State sovereignty. Emphasizing a need to ensure the highest level of ethical conduct of personnel participating in United Nations peacekeeping operations, he pledged full commitment to the Organization’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), urged the need for peacekeeping missions to support and align with Charter principles, which remained relevant in an increasingly challenging international security environment. Reaffirming the critical role of preventive diplomacy, he said peacekeeping operations had a great potential to push that forward. However, peacekeeping environments had become increasingly dangerous, he added, emphasizing a need to provide necessary resources to keep peacekeepers safe and able to carry out their mandates. Raising serious concerns over sexual exploitation and abuse carried out by peacekeeping personnel, he expressed full commitment to the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy. Turning to other concerns, he said it was vital to increase the number of women peacekeepers, he said.
Turning to regional and subregional organizations, he emphasized the importance of cooperation. Welcoming regional solutions to regional conflicts, he encouraged engagement between the Security Council, Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Member States and regional actors in drafting mandates. Around 4,800 police, military advisers and personnel from the ASEAN region were currently contributing to 12 peacekeeping operations. Given the region’s collective contribution to peacekeeping, he underscored the need for regional nations to be represented in leadership roles, emphasizing that ASEAN nations were underrepresented at Headquarters and in missions.
Speaking in his national capacity, he underscored a need for the Secretariat to communicate more with host countries and stressed the importance of providing appropriate resources to peacekeeping missions. It was critical to focus on the safety and security of peacekeepers and increase the participation of women, including in leadership roles. “We need more women as peacekeepers,” he stressed, reiterating Indonesia’s commitment to international peace and security, including through peacekeeping operations.
MICHAEL GRANT (Canada), also speaking for Australia and New Zealand, welcomed the Secretary-General’s ambitious reform agenda. The Organization should also develop a clear, game-changing strategy to visibly and concretely improve its approach to combating sexual exploitation and abuse. Member States must be equally ambitious in supporting the Secretary-General’s agenda. Given that sustaining peace was at the core of the United Nations and critical to designing peacekeeping operations, its meaning must be better defined in practice at Headquarters and in the field. Canada would host the next ministerial meeting on peacekeeping in 2017, building on the progress of previous conferences in the United States and the United Kingdom. Sustaining peacekeeping gains required a gender-based approach in all facets of operations and greater national ownership of policing. New technologies and innovative practices should be used increasingly to enhance the sharing of mission-specific intelligence.
He said troops and police must be ready to address challenges before, during and after their time in the field. In the past year, many peacekeepers had been killed or wounded while on duty and threats facing them must be met with improved support systems, particularly better systems with high standards for physical and mental health services. In that regard, he encouraged the development of strategies to improve best practices, training and approaches and to “put mental health and United Nations peacekeeping on our collective radar.” Lastly, he noted that Australia had deployed peacekeeping troops for 70 consecutive years and its commitment continued.
MAHLATSE MMINELE (South Africa) said, as a troop-contributing country, that the Security Council must ensure peacekeeping operations were fully resourced, entrusted with the appropriate mandate for the specific environment in which they were deployed and adequately equipped to protect themselves and discharge their mandate. The deployment of the Force Intervention Brigade of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) was a credible example of success in addressing potential threats. He supported the Secretary-General’s call to “resolve to put peace first” and make conflict prevention a priority. Partnerships with regional organizations, such as the African Union, would address some peacekeeping-related constraints, while United Nations assessed contributions provided the most reliable support for Security Council-mandated African Union activities. As co-chair of the Group of Friends on Security Sector Reform, South Africa believed such reform was essential in addressing the root causes of conflict. Committed to resolution 1325 (2000), he said ongoing efforts were promoting full gender parity in peacekeeping operations. Fully committed to a zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation in peacekeeping missions, he said South Africa had taken strong, immediate and decisive action against those who had been found guilty of such abuse, in line with the Government’s position on gender equality and women in peace and security matters.
OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) welcomed the notion of sustaining peace, with an understanding that it encompassed activities aimed at preventing the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict. “We all realize that armed conflicts cannot be resolved through military means only,” he said. Local rule of law capacities needed to be restored and enhanced in a context-sensitive manner from the very beginning of a United Nations peace operation and in close cooperation with other actors within the United Nations system and the host Government. Local communities had a vital role to play as well. On safety and security, he expressed concern over the high number of fatalities and injuries among peacekeepers, calling it a tragic reminder of a need for further improvements. There was also a need to rapidly finalize common security policies, regular dialogue with troops and the allocation of sufficient resources. While many challenges had been addressed, numerous issues were awaiting action, among them the creation of a single spectrum of peace operations including funding through a single account.
JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), associating himself with CELAC, said peacekeeping operations must adapt to meet the needs and address the challenges of an evolving international peace and security landscape. Emphasizing the importance of prioritizing political solutions over military ones, he said peacekeeping operations were an important tool in achieving sustainable peace, using prevention and holistic approaches to address the root causes of conflict. The task now was to ensure that peacekeeping operations helped to craft and implement political, security and humanitarian solutions. Ensuring the well-being of host communities was paramount, he said, expressing serious concern for acts of sexual abuse reported in peacekeeping operations and calling for action to eradicate the scourge, provide assistance to the victims and ensure perpetrators were brought to justice. The Security Council and Secretariat must hold regular consultations with host countries, he added, warning against politicizing the appointment of peacekeeping leadership.
MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia), a member-elect of the Special Committee, aligned herself with the statement by the CELAC. Since its ceasefire accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia–People’s Army (FARC-EP), Colombia had already seen the benefits of ending the war and the lessons learned about effective ways of forging stable, lasting peace. Peacekeeping operation strategies must be tied to holistic solutions. The Security Council must work with a State to obtain its consent and to allow the creation of successful exit strategies. It was vital to draw up and regularly review mandates in line with conditions on the ground and to coordinate mission activities with United Nations country teams and agencies and regional and subregional organizations. She noted the benefits of the tripartite mission in Colombia, the first of its kind, comprising the Government, FARC-EP and the United Nations. The involvement of indigenous and Afro-Colombian minorities — those most affected by the conflict — had been crucial to the success of the Government-led peace process.
To improve peacekeeping, she called for regular meetings between the Security Council and troop-contributing countries and mission experts alongside better civilian protection mandates and the implementation of the High-level Panel’s recommendations. With regard to Colombia, she said the plight of minors affected by the war had to be addressed. She called for a better gender balance within the Organization, particularly for peacekeeping and special political missions, recalling that General Assembly resolution 70/262 had reaffirmed the role of women in peacebuilding and conflict prevention. More women should be appointed as Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, especially for peacekeeping and special political missions, she said, emphasizing that the presence of female civilian and military observers had been crucial in ensuring everyone had joined the peace process in Colombia.
MATEO ESTREME (Argentina) said 2017 must see that conclusion of the review of the High-level Panel’s recommendations and the adoption of a substantive report on the matter. Given the three-year lapse in considering the recommendations, the Special Committee may need to consider changing its tact on how to respond to the recommendations. Regarding the section on doctrine and terminology, he said operations were never conceived nor designed to impose political solutions through the use of force. He proposed a paragraph in the review indicating that operations should not engage in counter-terrorism initiatives. Further, the term “United Nations peacekeeping operations” should refer collectively and exclusively to the Organization’s own peacekeeping operations and special political missions. Regarding attempts to incorporate the new narrative that had been introduced by Assembly resolution 70/262 and Security Council resolution 2282 (2016), she underscored a need for the Council to seek the Peacebuilding Commission’s advice regarding the creation, reduction and drawdown of peacekeeping mandates.
He said the rule of law section included two paragraphs on human rights activities in field missions, endorsing the Panel’s recommendations for better integrating such activities in the design, planning and implementation of peacekeeping operations. The reports on peacekeeping must duly reflect the opinion of Member States. He stressed the usefulness of consulting troop-contributing countries on policies and guidelines in the field, as they would have to implement them. He also highlighted Argentina’s proposals in the areas of conduct and discipline, United Nations policy, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and security-sector reform.
GÜVEN BEGEÇ (Turkey), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said the intensification of threats by terrorist and extremist groups had become a serious challenge to United Nations peacekeeping. In addition to their traditional duties, peacekeepers’ tasks had gradually increased and broadened, particularly in light of the moral responsibility of protecting civilians, defending the rights of the children and preventing sexual violence. Counter-terrorism operations should not be part of peacekeeping mandates, as they were not designed for that purpose. The Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse must be strictly implemented. “These utterly disgraceful acts should cease completely and the perpetrators must be punished,” he stressed. Emphasizing the need for greater cooperation between host States and the United Nations, he pledged that Turkish peacekeepers would continue to serve in various missions where they provided technical assistance and training to local law enforcement bodies.
IRENE SUSAN BARREIRO NATIVIDAD (Philippines), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said Filipino peacekeepers had or were currently serving in 15 countries, urging more efforts to be invested in local political solutions to conflicts. On conduct and discipline, she said the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse must be addressed through robust pre-deployment and in-mission training programmes that underscored leadership responsibility and accountability. Innovative capacity-building initiatives based on best practices in overcoming a culture of impunity were also essential. She welcomed the recent announcement of a new policy on the protection of children affected by armed conflict in United Nations peacekeeping operations and in special political missions. On strengthening operational capacity, she expressed support to Member States’ calls for the Secretariat to be more transparent in selecting contingents from troop- and police-contributing countries.
MAY-ELIN STENER (Norway) said that with more than 120,000 personnel deployed in field missions worldwide, a priority must be given to activities on the ground, which continued to be hampered by administrative rules and regulations. The United Nations must also continue to strengthen its civilian protection capacities, with a Special Representative of the Secretary-General playing a role in engaging host Governments. Combating conflict-related sexual violence was another key objective, she added, welcoming the Secretary-General’s commitment to make zero tolerance a reality. Emphasizing the need to strengthen the safety and security of peacekeepers, she stressed the need for resources to be made available to all operations. More open dialogue with troop-contributing countries could lead to solutions on filling capability gaps. Small countries had the potential to provide critical assets. The production of police manuals to be used in the field was imperative to United Nations peacekeeping operations delivering as one. She also underlined a need to nominate more women to all positions, particularly in the field.
IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD MOUSTAFA (Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said peacekeeping was just one available United Nations tool to achieve the political settlements of conflicts. Peacekeeping operations were not, however, a tool to address the root causes of conflict, he added, expressing concern that the long-term deployment of missions could lead to a loss of urgency to address conflicts. Development of exit criteria was vital. There had been a recent trend to expand mandates without consultation and approval of host countries, a practice that seriously threatened the Organization’s credibility. Any use of force by troops must be justified and only carried out in extreme circumstances and within the purview of the Charter. Expressing concern that when electing someone to top positions, the Secretariat sometimes adopted criteria other than competence, he warned against politicization and “doing favours” in order to please some Member States. Adopting an objective approach was the only guarantee for the credibility of peacekeeping operations. Police played a critical role in implementing United Nations mandates, whether through capacity-building in host countries or enabling national forces to protect borders. Condemning sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations personnel, he strongly supported efforts to end such acts.
JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, called for stronger coordination, with policies driving the design and deployment of peacekeeping operations. Emphasizing that the system must focus more on preventing conflict and promoting peace, he said prevention was the international community’s responsibility. He called for more flexible use of peacekeeping instruments to match needs on the ground as they evolved over time. It was also important to overcome the discrepancy of what operations were mandated to do to protect civilians and what they could do. The use of force in all instances should always be a tool of last resort and only for the legitimate defence of staff and mandates. Civilian protection mandates must be clear. Triangular cooperation among the Security Council, the Secretariat and police- and troop-contributing countries must be valued during all aspects of mandates. Turning to other concerns, he said sexual abuse by peacekeepers must be investigated and justice provided to victims. Immunity was not applicable to civilian staff and the United Nations must ensure victims were compensated and received the necessary psychological support. On operational matters, he said the use of modern technology must strictly adhere to Charter principles and human rights.
JOANNE ADAMSON (European Union) said peacekeeping, which was at the core of United Nations action, was in continuous evolution. Today’s operations moved on from the traditional military models of ceasefire observation to become more proactive and multidimensional — combining military, civilian and political aspects that strove to promote stability in the aftermath of conflict. She stressed the importance of political solutions to conflicts and to address their root causes and drivers. Even the most successful operations could not substitute political processes. Effective implementation of the protection of civilians as a whole-of-mission effort required better planning support to missions, capturing lessons learned effectively and improving the analysis and understanding of how to support host States in protecting civilians. Operations needed to be equipped with tools to better address the root causes of crises. Peacekeepers must, in line with clear mandates, protect civilians facing threat of physical violence.
She said better integration of modern technology and intelligence capabilities of peace operations should continue to be pursued. While that would help to improve the situational awareness of troops in real time, technology alone could not bring about solutions and increased effects. Instead, merging modern technology with relevant methods put at the disposal of well prepared and trained staff would be imperative. She recognized the role of women and youth as positive contributors to conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Training and equipping mission personnel was essential and must include redeployment and in-mission training on human rights components, including child protection and combating sexual and gender-based violence, exploitation and abuse. Strengthening police, justice and corrections institutions was crucial to safeguarding the rule of law and creating necessary preconditions for lasting and sustainable peace. Transition arrangements and exit strategies should be explored early on to ensure a smooth process as well as strengthening of the remaining United Nations entities’ authority in the country.
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said modern peacekeeping missions addressed political security, humanitarian and development dimensions of complex and often prolonged crises. Peacekeeping differed from peace enforcement, she added, warning against venturing into grey zones that could confuse a mission and erode neutrality. Deployment decisions had to be based on consultations, preparation and knowledge of the situation on the ground. Triangular cooperation was critical in that regard. The use of modern technology, consistent with the principles of peacekeeping, should enhance situational awareness and help in protecting civilians and ensuring the safety of peacekeepers. The situation whereby peacekeepers were continuously being asked to do more with less was unsustainable. A capability driven approach would enhance the effectiveness of missions, she added, emphasizing the importance of professional, well trained and equipped peacekeepers.
LIU JIEYI (China) said peacekeeping operations must keep up and be better able to adapt with changing times. It was critical to abide by the Charter’s purposes and principles. Consent, impartiality and non-use of force, except in instances of self-defence, were all vital. It was also essential to respect the host country’s sovereignty. Missions were meant to assist in rebuilding host countries; therefore, adequate attention must be paid to strengthening and expanding their capacities. He emphasized the need to protect peacekeepers and ensure information-sharing and the strengthening of medical and rescue capabilities. The roles played by troop- and police-contributing countries were indispensable. It was vital to pay attention to the developing needs of those countries and enhance their voices in bilateral and multilateral talks. The Secretariat should improve the quality of its management and assistance to the field, he added, highlighting various ways China was involved in peacekeeping operations, including through troop contributions.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), endorsing CELAC’s statement, said his country had deployed more than 43,800 troops and at present 1,430 operated on missions mainly in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As President of the Group of Friends of Haiti and a non-permanent Security Council member, Uruguay would support adjustments to the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), considering the positive developments in recent months. He noted with concern the lack of progress in implementing the 31 December 2016 agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was vital to ensuring a peaceful handover of power following elections. Peacekeeping operations in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among other areas, had been subjected to restrictions on movement, visa refusals and bureaucratic obstacles in deploying new troops and unilateral decisions to alter the terms of reference of peacekeeping missions. States participating in peacekeeping operations must ensure full respect for and compliance with status-of-forces agreements and any violations could not be tolerated. Civilian protection mandates were increasingly strengthened, but the financial and staff resources allocated to the missions were not enough to carry them out. Errors that had been committed due to a sudden withdrawal of personnel should be investigated. Uruguay was strongly committed to combating sexual exploitation and abuse.
FRANCISCO TENYA HASEGAWA (Peru) said priorities included implementing the recommendation to foster closer cooperation between the Security Council, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and troop-contributing countries. Peace operations should be given firmer mandates more tailored to the specific environments in which they operated. Peace operations played a crucial role in sustaining peace, he said, adding that Charter principles of sovereignty, impartiality and non-use of force must be respected. It was important to bring troop-contributing countries closer to the communities they served in order to build trust. He condemned any immoral conduct by peacekeepers, particularly sexual exploitation and abuse, and supported all initiatives to penalize sexual violence during armed conflict. The use of advanced technologies, modern warning systems, medical services and strategic deployment were essential to improving the efficiency of peacekeeping operations. All military personnel must be subjected to rigorous training before, during and after deployment.
ORGROB AMARACHGUL (Thailand) stressed the link between peace and sustainable development. By sharing its best practices in agriculture, health care and water resource management with local villages in Timor-Leste, Haiti and Darfur, Thailand had helped to build the kind of foundation necessary to prevent backsliding into conflict. Attaching great importance to the role of women in peacekeeping, he said female peacekeepers played a critical role in specific situations, including intelligence gathering and dealing with domestic violence. Including women in peace processes should be considered as a valuable tool that could affect outcomes. It was also imperative to harness and leverage new technologies in enhancing capabilities of peacekeeping operations. However, there were legitimate concerns over the financial and legal aspects of such new technologies, issues which must be addressed in order to ensure good governance and transparency.
TANMAYA LAL (India), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said large-scale violence against civilians continued to pose a serious threat in some mission locations, making their protection an issue of concern. Indian peacekeepers had been at the forefront of such efforts since the 1960s. With the recent drastic increase in the incidence and intensity of targeted attacks against United Nations peacekeepers, it was critical to improve safety and security and provide adequate facilities for medical attention in all missions. Implementing robust mandates was a complex task with serious inherent risks and uncertain outcomes, he added. The use of modern technological tools was essential, but must be done with appropriate safeguards that addressed the genuine concerns of host and neighbouring countries. As the largest cumulative troop contributor, India was deeply conscious of the complexities involved in the response of the international community to conflict situations.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) welcomed steps to improve security for peacekeepers and increase their resources. She supported giving greater delegation of authority to the field, which was especially important in responding to medical emergencies. The United States would continue its partnerships with many police- and troop-contributing countries through training and advisory support. It was necessary to deploy peacekeepers more quickly and more must be done to make operations more nimble. She hoped to see substantial progress in implementing the reforms called for in the 2016 reviews. The development of guidelines and a common vocabulary for United Nations policing was essential. She looked forward to improving conduct and discipline standards in line with international humanitarian and human rights law, and was heartened by measures for zero tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse. The United States looked forward to working with the Special Committee on its review report to reflect members’ mutual commitment to international peace and security.
ANAYANSI RODRÍGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with statements by the Non-Aligned Movement and CELAC, said the change of name from “peacekeeping operations” to “peace operations” in the High-level Panel’s report and by some Special Committee members had substantive implications. Resolving a conflict and ensuring there was no war did not mean that peace had been achieved. A broad debate among all Member States was needed to analyse the implications of that change. Peacekeeping operations were a temporary measure to create a security framework enabling a strategy for long-term sustainable development; they were not an end in themselves. New technologies should be used in peacekeeping operations on a case-by-case basis and with respect for Charter principles. Pointing out that some missions used drones, she said that despite the lack of defined principles and general legal and safety standards approved by Member States for their use, the Secretariat had sent invitations to train personnel to handle them and the information they collected. The legal, operational, technical and financial aspects of their use must be defined, she stressed.
TAKESHI AKAHORI (Japan) said communications systems were evolving constantly, requiring peacekeepers to keep pace with progress. A strong grasp of the latest developments in United Nations communications systems was crucial for peacekeepers to do their job more safely and effectively. Outlining several projects aimed at training and equipping field and local personnel, he emphasized the role of triangular partnerships between the United Nations, troop-contributing countries and third countries as indispensable to upgrade current operations. Working with the Secretariat would expand those partnerships even further. Expressing support for the development of a United Nations e-learning programme for the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse, he said the initiative provided necessary knowledge and understanding not only for the peacekeepers on the ground but also at Headquarters. The Security Council must ensure that mission mandates were tailored to address evolving situations on the ground.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said information exchanges between the mission in Mali and Malian authorities had allowed for the critical evaluation of methods and mechanisms used to protect civilians. Highlighting various ways United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was contributing to peacekeeping, he said logistical support and the protection of its forces were vital for the accomplishment of its mandate and for allowing the Government to reassert its authority. Mandates must be adapted to needs on the ground. The Secretariat, the Security Council and the troop-contributing countries must work closely with host countries in fulfilling mandates. It was critical to deploy appropriate resources needed to prevent threats against civilians. United Nations personnel must act professionally and support national authorities in protecting children and preventing sexual-based violence. Partnerships between regional and subregional organizations were also imperative.
SEMENEWORK HAILU HABTIE (Ethiopia), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said unprecedented peace and security challenges were facing the world. The role of United Nations peacekeeping could not be more indispensable and strengthening it had never been more urgent. Over the 18 months, Member States had discussed ways and means for doing that at the various intergovernmental committee meetings, including the Special Committee. She reiterated the need for discussions to be geared towards practical implementation on the ground. The challenges of peace and security the international community faced today could not be handled by the United Nations alone, she said, emphasizing a need to enhance strategic partnerships between the Organization and regional and subregional organizations, particularly the African Union, in the area of peacekeeping.