A “quantum leap in collective engagement” was needed to meet the serious challenges facing United Nations peacekeeping operations, particularly in its largest deployments, the Secretary-General told the Security Council today in an open debate on improving the Organization’s flagship enterprise.
Indeed, in countries such as Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan, peacekeepers operated in increasingly dangerous, complex environments, he said, under the threat of armed groups, criminals and terrorists, who often had access to powerful modern weapons.
Last year alone, the United Nations lost 59 peacekeepers through malicious acts — a sharp increase from 2016, when that figure was 34.
Outlining a series of steps being taken by the Secretariat to address the most pressing issues, he called on all partners and stakeholders to mobilize under its new “Action for Peacekeeping” initiative, as no one could meet the current challenges alone.
Cautioning against overpromising and under delivering, he noted that peacekeeping — and indeed multilateralism itself — was being damaged by unrealistic expectations. Urging the Council to streamline peacekeeping mandates and end those that “look like Christmas trees”, he said that by attempting too much, “we dilute our efforts and weaken our impact”.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said multilateralism was the only way to ensure a lasting response to peace and security challenges. Noting that about half of all peacekeeping operations were in Africa, he said many were deployed in volatile environments amid the absence of an effective political process, testifying to the challenges at hand.
Highlighting funding constraints, he called for peacekeeping missions to be endowed with resources needed to properly and fully deliver on their mandates, adding that, while Member States were overly focused on budgets and financing, that should not distract them from the overarching goal of peace.
In the ensuing open debate, more than 70 speakers offered their views on improving United Nations peacekeeping, with several underscoring the notion of shared responsibility. The representative of the United States stressed that her country was the largest financial contributor to peacekeeping. Such endeavours were a shared responsibility and the United States was no longer willing to pay more than 25 per cent of the share.
Taking stock of counterproductive efforts, Ethiopia’s delegate said it was crucial to “avoid getting bogged down in the same old discussions”. Shared responsibility should be front and centre, and the tendency to look at reform from a narrow perspective must be avoided. An incremental approach to reform would have a better chance of delivering results, he said, adding that the Secretariat should be much more field-focused.
Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of State for Defence, noting that he and his compatriots had benefitted from the United Nations operation in his country, said conflict prevention must be addressed as a genuine priority, together with clear mandates that included better protection of civilians. Effective relations between the United Nations and host Governments were also vital.
The Secretary of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France said improved performance hinged on training, including language training that would enable peacekeepers to interact better with local populations. Improved force generation should include enhanced mobility, force projection, more women peacekeepers and sufficient resources for missions to deliver on their mandates.
A number of speakers, including Canada’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, called for redoubled efforts and more creative thinking to increase the number of women in peacekeeping. Condemning sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations, he encouraged the Secretary-General to ensure common standards across all United Nations entities, with Member States playing their part.
Bolivia’s representative said threats posed by terrorism and transnational organized crime made it imperative to carry out “root-and-branch” reform of peacekeeping operations. He advocated for political strategies to drive the future of peacekeeping missions, adding that a preventive approach — informed by an in-depth study of each situation — was essential.
Questioning the changing nature of peacekeeping and introduction of robust mandates with authority to use force, the representative of the Russian Federation said it was highly dubious that they could reduce the risk of death when such force only led to an increase in casualties. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it had not been proven that such mandates were justified, he said.
On that point, Pakistan’s delegate said the “protection by projection” pilot in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) had shown it was challenging to protect civilians only by projecting power. Welcoming investments in mediation, he said the Secretary-General’s initiative to reform reporting lines could provide logistical support to missions. Reforms must include a rethink of the Secretariat’s performance.
Reinforcing that call, Japan’s Director-General, International Peace Cooperation Headquarters, Cabinet Office, pressed the Secretariat to “grasp mission-specific needs for effective training and capacity-building, encouraging it to strategically assess mission performance.
The representative of the Philippines underscored the need for more investment in local political solutions to conflicts, which the United Nations must reinforce and not supplant. “If the politics of peacekeeping are not national, then it is foreign interference,” he said.
Also briefing the Council today was the Director of the Groupe de Recherche d’Etude de Formation Femme Action.
Ministers, other senior officials and representatives of the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Kazakhstan, France, United Kingdom, Peru, Kuwait, China, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia (also on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Germany, Estonia, Canada, Venezuela, Lebanon, Brazil, Thailand, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Republic of Korea, Ireland, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina, Spain, India, Italy (also on behalf of the Group of Friends on the Responsibility to Protect), Israel, Lithuania, Slovakia, Portugal, El Salvador, Nepal, Djibouti, Jordan, Turkey, Slovenia, Uruguay, Belgium, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Morocco, United Republic of Tanzania, Georgia, Colombia, South Africa, Switzerland, Cuba, Maldives, Mali, Egypt, Cyprus, Viet Nam, Latvia, Malaysia, Rwanda, Serbia, Fiji and Sudan.
Representatives of the European Union and Holy See also spoke.
The meeting began at 10:09 a.m. and ended at 6:20 p.m.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, United Nations Secretary‑General, said that United Nations peacekeeping was a remarkable enterprise of multilateralism and international solidarity, helping countries move from war to peace and supporting the work of civil society. Nevertheless, peacekeepers faced serious challenges, particularly in four of their largest deployments: Mali, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan. Simply put, peace operations could not succeed if they were deployed in lieu of a political solution, rather than in support of one.
At the same time, peacekeepers operated in far more dangerous, complex and high-risk environments, under the threat of armed groups, criminals and terrorists, who often had access to powerful modern weapons, he said. They were often underequipped, underprepared and not ready for the dangerous environments in which they operated. Last year alone, the United Nations lost 59 peacekeepers through malicious acts — a sharp increase from 2016, when that figure was 34.
Moreover, peacekeeping — and indeed multilateralism itself — was being damaged by unrealistic expectations, he said. In turn, lives and credibility were being lost. Such challenges required strong, collective action, and the Secretariat had already set that change in motion. First, it was working to improve the safety and security of peacekeepers, and conducting independent reviews of its missions aimed at refining their priorities and configuration.
Further, he said the Secretariat had launched a new approach to sexual exploitation and abuse, ensuring that victims had a clear way to report allegations. It was working with troop-contributing countries to address allegations, end impunity and prevent future cases. Reforms of the peace and security architecture were also under way and should result in better analysis, with an overall goal to improve capacities to prevent conflict and sustain peace.
However, action by the Secretariat alone was not enough to meet the challenges, he said, calling for a “quantum leap in collective engagement”. The new “Action for Peacekeeping” initiative aimed at mobilizing all partners and stakeholders. To collectively build that agreement, he urged the Council to streamline mandates and to end those that “look like Christmas trees”. By attempting too much, “we dilute our efforts and weaken our impact”, he said.
Next, he called on Member States to push for political solutions and inclusive peace processes, including through bilateral diplomacy and sanctions if needed. “A peacekeeping operation is not an army, or a counterterrorist force, or a humanitarian agency,” he said. “It is a tool to create the space for a nationally owned political solution.” He asked them to continue strengthening partnerships with regional organizations before appealing to peacekeeping’s leadership, personnel, civilian, military and police to “come ready to deliver”, noting that caveats imposed by troop- and-police-contributing countries had no place in peacekeeping operations. Reaffirming his commitment to budget discipline and cost-effectiveness, he urged all to align human and financial resources with mandates, and called on host countries to provide full consent and cooperation to peacekeeping operations, including by holding perpetrators of attacks accountable.
MOUSSA FAKI MAHAMAT, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, said peacekeeping operations mandated by the Security Council were a cornerstone of international efforts to promote peace and security, illustrating the value of multilateralism and symbolizing global solidarity. Speaking via teleconference from Nouakchott, he said Africa was profoundly attached to multilateralism and its institutions, viewing them as the only way to ensure a lasting response to peace and security challenges. Unilateralism, on the other hand, could be a serious threat to global peace and security, and he advocated that everything be done to protect multilateralism.
Noting that about half of all peacekeeping operations were in Africa, with the goal of ridding the continent of war by 2020, he said many were deployed in volatile environments amid the absence of an effective political process, testifying to the challenges at hand. As such, peacekeeping missions must be endowed with resources needed to properly and fully deliver on their mandates. “It seems we are overly focused on budgets and financing, but that should not distract from the over-arching goal of peace,” he said, stressing that spending on peacekeeping was a mere fraction of global arms expenditures.
In addition, there must be closer cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, he said, adding that peacekeeping operations risked being long‑term in the absence of political processes. Solving political issues took time and the mere presence of a peacekeeping operation helped stabilize a situation. By the same token, it was morally reprehensible to challenge the presence of such an operation. In that context, he emphasized the importance of partnership between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council, through joint field visits and sending a single unified message to the parties to a conflict.
He said the Security Council must also take on board the views of the African Union and openly receive its input. He suggested that the African Union Commission and the Secretariat ramp up joint field visits at the highest possible level with the aim of taking a joint stance. There was a need for complementarity between United Nations peacekeeping and African Union missions, he said, stressing that the bloc and its regional mechanisms had demonstrated their determination to take risks for the cause of peace. Given financial and logistical shortfalls, the Security Council must ensure sustained and predictable funding for the operations it authorized. Whatever the criticism of peacekeeping, the international community must not “throw out the baby with the bathwater” when addressing the issue.
FATIMA TOURÉ, Director of Groupe de Recherche d’Etude de Formation Femme Action, briefed on the security situation experienced by her people in the northern Mali. The harsh, brutal rebellion in Mali in 1990 had been followed by a global compact. Despite that peace agreement, the northern region of Mali had never enjoyed peace. In fact, the people there had been subjected to decades of rape, abuse and violence. Women could not go to the market because their vehicles were attacked and they were robbed. If they went alone and walked, they ran the risk of being raped. For those who questioned why there was a need for a peacekeeping operation in Mali, she explained that it was because the rebellion had never gone away and the Malian State could not ensure the safety and security of its people, particularly in the north. Furthermore, the rebellion had led to a national divide and instability, spreading to neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso. Overall, it had led to 70 per cent of territory being occupied by rebels — including those seeking independence, as well as militants — and services being stopped.
Turning to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), she pointed to two aspects of interest to her. First, was the Mission’s support for implementing the peace and reconciliation agreement — everything was predicated upon that. Despite some positive developments, it had not led to any concrete progress for the population. The agreement called for creation of a territorial police force, but, three years down the line, it had still not happened. Such a force was needed because of the pervasive insecurity plaguing the population. People could not leave their homes and were being killed in broad daylight, with complete impunity, she said, adding that insecurity lay at the heart of everything else.
Nevertheless, certain aspects of the MINUSMA mandate had been beneficial, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, and the security sector reform linked to it, she said. That was a welcome step and had helped reduce insecurity in areas where such initiatives had been pursued. Thanks to budget support on that front, MINUSMA had been able to reach remote areas. Moreover, it had been said that the mere presence of MINUSMA had helped reduce youth employment, which remained a major problem. That challenge helped explain why there were so many attacks on MINUSMA — there were so many young people with nothing to do. But, overall, her people did not feel safe and secure. Indeed, they felt abandoned. She explained some of the deep-rooted issues unique to the territory of her region, including its desertification, remoteness and mistrust between people of different backgrounds, making it a fertile ground for the rebels. There were also jihadists and traffickers, who had a lot of money, political influence, and did not want peace. In closing, she stressed that MINUSMA’s civilian protection mandate must be robust and tailored to the needs of the people and the prevailing situation in northern Mali.
MARK RUTTE, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Council President for March, speaking in his national capacity, said the history of peace operations had seen notable achievements, but it also had its dark pages. “We in the Netherlands know that all too well,” he said, emphasizing that modernizing and improving United Nations peace operations was a priority for his country. The Council must establish clear and focused mandates while putting pressure on parties to conflicts to find political solutions. Host countries must cooperate fully with peacekeeping missions, while the Secretariat must support those missions efficiently and effectively. Member States must ensure that sufficient funding, political support and well-trained, disciplined and well-equipped troops were always available. To make missions more effective flexible, good intelligence was key, as were rotation schemes for such vital resources as helicopters and medical facilities. It was also important for them to have an integrated approach, with strategies and benchmarks, he said, citing MINUSMA in that case and welcoming the United Nations’ increased work with regional partners.
HAMED BAKAYOKO, Minister of State for Defence of Côte d’Ivoire, noting that he and his compatriots had personally benefitted from the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), said it was incumbent on the Council to avail peacekeeping operations with flexible mandates, tailored to each situation, as well as clear and achievable goals. Troop-contributing countries must ensure adequate training, in line with the United Nations code of conduct while ensuring the equipment required on the ground. He went on to discuss the peacekeeping experience in his country, which included a predeployment political agreement, a sanctions regime, authorization of the use of force by UNOCI to destroy heavy weapons, and respect by the relevant parties for political agreements and election results. He added that conflict prevention must be addressed as a genuine priority, together with clear mandates that included better protection of civilians, as well as effective relations between the United Nations and host Governments. He also emphasized the need for sustainable and predictable funding, as well as the indispensability of the gender dimension.
IBRAHIM BAYLAN, Minister for Policy Coordination and Energy of Sweden, aligning himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Nordic countries, voiced firm support for the Secretary-General’s reform agenda which put prevention and sustainable development at the heart of efforts. Sweden currently deployed 350 personnel to United Nations peacekeeping and contributed about $70 million to peacekeeping missions yearly. In order to make informed decisions, the Security Council had to be provided with information on options and trade-offs between mission tasks, costs, safety and security, and resources ahead of mandate renewal and significant changes in operational environments. A gender perspective and gender-disaggregated data were required. Peacekeeping intelligence was vital to ensure informed decisions and operational planning. Selections processes for senior mission leadership should be reviewed and joint training of management teams enhanced to enable well-prepared and cohesive leadership and greater delegation of authority to the field, as foreseen by the Secretary-General’s reform agenda. Troops needed the right training, skills and equipment to protect civilians and carry out mandates in line with applicable law. Troop-contributing countries must be held accountable and sexual exploitation and abuse must be prevented and combated to maintain the legitimacy of peacekeeping. Peace was best pursued in partnership, he said, highlighting the need for joint political strategy. “Frank discussions should characterise our relations with host nations, before and during deployment of missions”, he added.
NIKKI R. HALEY (United States) said that, while the United Nations Charter made no mention of peacekeeping, when given an appropriate mandate and properly equipped, it played an essential role in keeping peace and saving lives. Overall, missions had become more effective and efficient, such as in Haiti and Darfur and in places such as Liberia, which had seen responsible drawdowns. Yet, there was much more to do, particularly in Mali, which was the most dangerous assignment in the world. She encouraged comprehensive policies that evaluated the performance of all personnel and introduced accountability measures when they fell short, calling also for the elimination of sexual abuse and exploitation in peacekeeping. There could be no excuses for such behaviour and she encouraged the full use of resolution 2272 (2016), noting that peacekeepers must meet the highest standards of conduct. Concerning budgets, she said the United States was the largest contributor to peacekeeping, a fact that would not change. However, peacekeeping was a shared responsibility; one country should not shoulder more than a quarter of that duty. Therefore, the United States would not pay more than 25 per cent in the future. “We must remember why we deploy peacekeepers in the first place: to help victims,” she said. “We must keep them at the forefront of our minds.”
MAREK MAGIEROWSKI (Poland) said contemporary security challenges required the use of all available means. He voiced support for all efforts towards peaceful dispute resolution and addressing the causes of conflict. Indeed, a changing global security architecture had affected the nature of conflict and peacekeeping missions must evolve. The international community must respond to new challenges with realistic, context-specific measures. Poland attached the utmost importance to the role of peacekeeping in the protection of civilians, he said, calling on Member States to endorse the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians. On sexual exploitation and abuse, he advocated zero tolerance, stressing that impunity could not be accepted and that every perpetrator must be brought to justice. Voicing concern about the insufficient training of peacekeepers, he said Poland was committed to providing training and helping to enhance peacekeepers skills.
TALGAT MUKHTAROV, Deputy Minister for Defence of Kazakhstan, said some peacekeeping missions had continued for decades due to a lack of political decisions, working in conditions where local power structures were not fully able to ensure security. Meanwhile, asymmetric threats were growing and peacekeepers were becoming targets for attack. Despite the numerous recent reports on and reviews of United Nations peacekeeping operations, and some changes, the number of deaths had increased — especially in the five largest missions in Africa. In that context, he stressed that modern problems required a comprehensive, three-pronged approach based on the relationships between security and sustainable development. A regional approach was also critical, as was the principle of “One United Nations”. Peacekeeping must strictly abide by all Charter principles, and new proposals or conditions must be carefully considered by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. Calling for enhanced confidence-building among Council members, he said peacekeeping operations needed clearly defined mandates, objectives and command structures and sustainable financing, adding that they were not suitable tools to counter terrorism.
JEAN-BAPTISTE LEMOYNE, Secretary of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, paid tribute to the 3,700 blue helmets who had died while on United Nations peacekeeping operations, including 113 of his compatriots. The cardinal principle of peacekeeping as a tool for achieving a political solution to a conflict must be reaffirmed. He emphasized the need to improve the performance of peacekeeping operations, saying “the time for action has arrived”. Improved performance hinged on training, including language training that would enable peacekeepers to interact better with local populations. Improved force generation should include enhanced mobility, force projection, more women peacekeepers and sufficient resources for missions to deliver on their mandates in full. He stressed the need for systematic consultations with troop‑contributing countries prior to mandate renewals, adding that France fully supported the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.
TARIZ AHMAD, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations of the United Kingdom, noted that 2018 marked the seventieth anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping, which had given hope and opportunity to millions of people in some of the most challenging places on Earth. “United Nations peacekeeping is far too important to fail,” he said. The Council must set clear and attainable objectives through more strategic mandates which took a longer-term view. There must be better coordination with peacebuilding and development efforts, as well as strengthened accountability for underperformance of peacekeeping missions. Troops should be better matched with the tasks they were being asked to carry out, he said, emphasizing also the need to engage more women in all components of peacekeeping. He noted the United Kingdom’s intention to hold an international conference on conflict-related sexual violence in 2019.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said peacekeeping operations must respond to increasingly complex environments in which there was often no longer any peace to keep. Moreover, the cost of peacekeeping was “infinitesimal” when compared to the cost of war. He highlighted the need to provide clarity on the objectives and functions of troop-contributing countries in order to boost the effectiveness of operations. There must be progress in the implementation of a rapid response mechanism, enhanced access to capacity-building and greater leadership by women in peacekeeping. At the same time, it was important to determine the feasibility of a mandate based on ground developments, he said, stressing that the consent and cooperation of a host State, and presence of a genuine political process was crucial. Partnerships with neighbouring countries were also needed to prevent the trafficking of arms and natural resources, which exacerbated conflicts. The safety of peacekeepers must be guaranteed. As such, the context and territory in which they would be deployed must be analysed in order to provide them with all resources needed.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said discussions about reforming United Nations peacekeeping had been going on for two years or more, with many good ideas and recommendations being generated. Now was the time to prioritize implementation. “It is vitally important that we avoid getting bogged down in the same old discussions,” some of which had been around since the Report of the Panel on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in 2000, he said. Shared responsibility should be front and centre, and the often-apparent tendency to look at reform from a narrow perspective must be avoided. An incremental approach to reform would have a better chance of delivering results, he said, adding that the Secretariat should be much more field-focused. Global-regional partnerships were no longer a matter of choice, but a necessity, he said, adding that, as a leading troop‑contributing country, Ethiopia attached great importance to strengthening United Nations peacekeeping operations in all their aspects, driven by a strong conviction that multilateralism and collective security worked.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) said that, as a troop-contributing country and host of a peacekeeping mission for 12 years, host countries must be consulted during all stages of any given mandate. In that connection, the triangular cooperation initiated by the Council and troop-contributing countries was an important means to hear their concerns during the phases of a mandate. Stressing that coherence and coordination were needed to face current peacekeeping challenges, he voiced support for the Secretary-General’s efforts to tackle the obstacles preventing the full implementation of mandates, as well as the increasing number of fatalities. That included adapting the principles of a mandate to external factors that did not respect the United Nations flag. Such threats required a holistic approach that addressed root causes. Meanwhile, clear and flexible mandates, were needed to adapt to changes on the ground and ensure missions operated without indefinite extensions that did not meet defined goals.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said the main objective of United Nations peacekeeping operations was to deliver assistance to countries, with the aim of ensuring that political agreements were promptly implemented. In the absence of political progress, missions were liable to stay in a country for years on end. He lamented the changing nature of peacekeeping and introduction of robust mandates with authority to use force. It was highly dubious that they could reduce the risk of death when such force only led to an increase in casualties. Robust mandates should not become routine and must be finely calibrated to each situation. Moreover, vesting peacekeepers with such authority in the Democratic Republic of the Congo had not proven that such mandates were justified. He went on to stress the importance of the principle of impartiality, noting that, even under the most noble pretext, peacekeepers should not take sides. In addition, the success of peacekeeping operations hinged on cohesion of efforts of stakeholders in the process. At the same time, well-thought-out exit strategies were needed to avoid distortions or overburdening. More broadly, lasting peace in Africa was not possible without African countries taking a lead role, he asserted.
MA ZHAOXU (China) said Member States and the Secretariat must adapt peacekeeping operations to changing situations on the ground. Peacekeeping missions must strictly adhere to United Nations Charter principles and fully respect the sovereignty of host countries. Secretariat support for peacekeeping must be enhanced, with priority given to troop security. It was imperative to enhance the capacity of troop-contributing countries, particularly developing countries, and to reinforce partnerships with regional organizations. Emphasizing that China was the second largest troop-contributing country among Security Council members, and the second largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget, he said his country had established an 8,000-strong peacekeeping standby force, and had deployed its first helicopters to a mission in Africa.
ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) said the time was right to carry out peacekeeping reforms, given the fresh winds of change sweeping through the strategic architecture of peace and security. He drew attention to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, which was the only body mandated to broadly address operations in all their aspects. In dealing with African issues, the culture and traditions of African ethnicities must be borne in mind, including the important role that traditional stakeholders could play in resolving disputes. He went on to say that, with more than half of all United Nations peacekeeping missions deployed in Africa, the continent’s views must be taken into account when drawing up mandates. The African Union, as well as regional and subregional organizations, must be an integral part of improving any peacekeeping operation.
PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) said threats posed by terrorism and transnational organized crime made it imperative to carry out “root-and-branch” reform of peacekeeping operations. The United Nations had received important advice and recommendations in that regard from the report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations, known as the “Brahimi report”, and that of the High-Level Panel on Peacekeeping Operations. He said Bolivia was a strong advocate of political strategies to drive the future of peacekeeping missions, adding that a preventive approach — informed by an in-depth study of each situation — was essential. Peacekeeping mandates must always respect the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of States and not be used as an instrument for meddling. He underscored the pressing need to improve institutional agility and, given the relentless attacks on peacekeeping forces, improving situational awareness. Missions must be financed in a predictable and sustainable way, with autonomy from those Member States contributing the most to the peacekeeping budget.
RETNO LESTARI PRIANSARI MARSUDI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that, in reforming United Nations peacekeeping, priority should be given to field missions and people on the ground. Reforms should aim to enhance performance and capabilities, with United Nations leadership in the field given more responsibility to take decisions. Mandates must be matched with sufficient resources, she said, adding: “We cannot force missions and peacekeepers to do more with less on the ground.” Everyone bore a responsibility to ensure that no peacekeepers were harmed in undertaking their duties.
Speaking in her national capacity, she said Indonesia was among the top 10 contributors to United Nations peacekeeping with more than 2,650 personnel, including 83 women, participating in 9 missions. It had also established its own peacekeeping training centre. Peacekeepers must be well-trained, well-equipped and adequately resourced in order to win the hearts and minds of local communities. Troop- and police-contributing countries and host nations should have a bigger voice in crafting peacekeeping mandates. The Council should ensure that mandates were clear and realistic, with achievable exit strategies and a focus on supporting political processes. For its part, the Secretariat should formulate more flexible and less bureaucratic policies. Engagement with regional and subregional organizations should be enhanced and more women peacekeepers deployed, she added.
HEIKO MAAS, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, said collective action was needed for United Nations peacekeeping, as were robust multilateral institutions, a strong United Nations and a Security Council that was “united in both its purpose and responsibility”. Voicing full support for the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals to sustain peace, including in Syria, he said Germany was a strong financial and political supporter of United Nations peacekeeping. He advocated strengthening peacekeepers’ safety and security, making policing a core area of peace operations and increasing women’s role in such operations. Germany had tripled its contributions to United Nations crisis prevention efforts, and he welcomed the Secretary-General’s call for a quantum leap in peacebuilding funding. Germany’s support in Mali, South Sudan and Lebanon, among other countries, was “always embedded in a comprehensive political strategy — both nationally and within the European Union”, he said.
JÜRI LUIK, Minister for Defence of Estonia, emphasizing that peacekeeping mandates should be more realistic and robust, advocated greater focus by the Council on adopting mission-specific and tailored mandates. An improved decision‑making process should be prioritized to make the United Nations faster and more flexible when addressing crises, and to that end, Estonia supported greater delegation of power to the field. Member States had the responsibility of providing troops and capabilities to United Nations operations, while the training and equipping of forces were the responsibility of all. Stronger implementation of accountability measures must be adopted and remedial action taken to ensure that troops were prepared and able to carry out their tasks. Creating security and stability also required greater cooperation and coordination with other actors in the field.
HARJIT SINGH SAJJAN, Minister for National Defence of Canada, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Women, Peace and Security, called for redoubled efforts and more creative thinking to increase the number of women in peacekeeping. The Group encouraged the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department for Field Support to finalize a gender strategy for Headquarters and to ensure the implementation of targets in the field. More must also be done to mainstream gender considerations into peacekeeping, he said, including the deployment of gender advisers and women protection advisers. Condemning in the strongest terms cases of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations, he said the Group encouraged the Secretary-General to ensure common standards across all United Nations entities, with Member States also playing their part.
Speaking in his national capacity, he said the United Nations had repeatedly failed to reach targets for the deployment of women. “The time for change is now and we must be bold,” he said, drawing attention to a Canadian initiative aimed at overcoming barriers to women’s participation. Much more could also be done to enhance child protection. Noting that Canada chaired the Working Group of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, he said that body had tied the voices of troop- and police-contributing countries to efforts to improve the way peacekeeping was delivered. He went on to underscore Canada’s commitment of a transport aircraft to the United Nations Regional Support Centre in Entebbe, and helicopters to MINUSMA.
SAMUEL MONCADO, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Venezuela, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed that any effort aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of United Nations peacekeeping operations was a matter of vital importance, given that 88 per cent of the peacekeepers deployed had come from non-aligned States. Reiterating the importance of peaceful dispute resolution, he said that, while there was agreement on the fundamental role of peacekeeping operations, in the context of a holistic approach, the objective of lasting peace and security must be supported by an inclusive, parallel and comprehensive political process. Peacekeeping operations must not be used as an alternative for addressing deep-rooted causes of conflicts, nor to manage conflicts themselves. The success of an operation and the safety of personnel depended on the existence of viable, realistic and well-defined mandates, political leadership, accountability and sufficient resources, as well as policies, planning and training that were operational in nature.
AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon) reviewed the strategic relationship between her country and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which first deployed 40 years ago, saying that, while not always perfect, calm prevailed on the “blue line”. Through the Tripartite Committee in South Lebanon, the Government and the United Nations had defused tension, solved problems and averted conflict on an almost daily basis. However, 12 years after the adoption of resolution 1701 (2006), there had been no progress towards a permanent ceasefire or solving underlying regional political problems, including an Israeli withdrawal from occupied Lebanese territory and a halt to Israel’s daily violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty by land, air and sea. “Open-ended peacekeeping operations do not end conflicts. Implementing United Nations resolutions does,” she said, urging the Council to end the gridlock that had characterized its work in recent years.
MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) affirmed voiced support for the Secretary-General’s proposed peacekeeping reforms, notably the restructuring of the peace and security pillar. Brazil advocated for changes that required actions by the Security Council, as well as the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. Brazil valued the important contribution of the report on Improving Security of United Nations Peacekeepers, known as the “Santos-Cruz report”, and supported its recommendations for adequate resources, equipment and training, and engendering a sense of shared responsibility. The success of peacekeeping would not be solely determined by the military component but also by missions’ capacity to protect and sustain peace, by the existence of achievable mandates and political will from both regional actors and the international community.
VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand) welcomed the deliberations of the 2018 substantive session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, including its policy guidance on troop performance and accountability. Peacekeeping mandates must be planned thoroughly, be achievable and realistic, context-specific and flexible. Thailand advocated for peacekeepers to meet international and United Nations standards before and during deployment. Thailand was committed to ensuring all Thai peacekeepers, including those who would join the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), were properly prepared, trained and equipped. He underlined the importance of close consultations among all stakeholders and the need for stronger partnership, including by improving the capacities of regional and subregional organizations. In seeking new ideas to ensure that operations were fit for purpose, Thailand had joined others in supporting the management of missions’ environmental footprint throughout their life cycle, to allow for cost efficiencies, improved troop safety and better overall mandate delivery.
MASAKI NOKE, Director-General, International Peace Cooperation Headquarters, Cabinet Office, Japan, said political efforts were of utmost importance for resolving conflict, as outlined in resolution 2406 (2018) renewing the UNMISS mandate. He advocated action by the Council, Secretariat, troop- and police-contributing countries, host States and regional organizations in ensuring peacekeepers’ safety. For its part, Japan supported peacekeeping centres in 13 African countries, and along with Brazil and Switzerland, supported capacity‑building through the Triangular Partnership project. Since 2015, it had provided training for the operation of heavy engineering equipment in Kenya, as such skills were critically important for the safety and security of personnel. In the medical area, Japan supported the United Nations in standardizing and training in “buddy first aid”, and would support training to medical personnel in Africa. “The Secretariat needs to grasp mission‑specific needs for effective training and capacity‑building,” he said, encouraging it to strategically review and assess missions’ performance.
MAY-ELIN STENER (Norway), also speaking on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden, stressed that the success or failure of a peace operation was defined primarily by whether it helped to bring about a sustainable and peaceful settlement of the conflict. In that connection, missions must be mandated, planned and designed in response to each specific context, and a gender-sensitive and whole-of-system approach should guide that process. The new practice of conducting independent reviews of missions was a major step towards a more strategic approach, she said, underscoring the need for close coordination between those who mandated, planned, managed and implemented operations. Collective efforts should seek to measure and improve performance, while the zero-tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse must be fully respected and implemented.
CHO TAE YUL (Republic of Korea), also speaking on behalf of Ethiopia and Norway, who, together with his country, led the Group of Friends of Peace Operations, said it was high time for all actors to come together to implement the High-Level Independent Panel report on peacekeeping operations. Such operations should better support local political solutions, while their mandates should be more realistic and consider the entire peace continuum. Noting that the Peacebuilding Commission was well placed to advise the Council on post-conflict follow-up, he underlined the need to strengthen and prioritize the safety and security of peacekeepers. Better intelligence, the introduction of new technology and deeper engagement with local communities were critical. Welcoming the United Nations commitment to strengthen its cooperation with regional organizations, especially the African Union, he emphasized the need to promote a culture of dialogue, resulting in frank and productive discussions among all relevant actors. “When stakes are high, working together becomes an imperative.”
BRIAN PATRICK FLYNN (Ireland), associating himself the European Union, said Irish troops had worn blue helmets abroad for 60 years. There was a disconnect between mission mandates and their resources. Peacekeeping operations must be more than a way of demonstrating political resolve, he stressed, and strategic reviews would help ensure that they remained fit for purpose. Noting that all missions’ mandates must be designed appropriately from the outset, he said only by learning from its mistakes could the Council ensure that they were not repeated. “This goes to the heart of the credibility of this Council,” he said. Partners such as the European Union were developing platforms that could help address resource challenges. Effectiveness would be enhanced by increasing the participation of women. Also citing a need to identify and address capacity gaps, he said security was just one step on the path to peace and voiced support for the Secretary‑General’s emphasis on prevention.
JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said “this is a time of major challenges” as the recommendations of the High-Level Independent Panel report and other peacekeeping reviews were implemented on the ground. Peacekeeping operations must be capable of fulfilling their mandates and ensuring security in support of development. Further, mandates must always be clear and realistic, with flexible deadlines that could be adjusted to meet needs on the ground. Discussions within the Special Committee this year had reaffirmed that approach, while recognizing that improving peacekeeping still had a long way to go. The Council must engage more closely with host countries, local actors, troop contributors and others, while earmarking sufficient resources in a timely manner. The Special Committee had also pointed to challenges stemming from financial disagreements between Member States, he said, noting that the Peacebuilding Fund and the Peacebuilding Commission provided strategic links between the United Nations major organs.
OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of Friends on the Responsibility to Protect, said the debate came at a timely moment following the increase in attacks against peacekeeping personnel in various missions. The use of force must always be a last resort, particularly when acting on behalf of the United Nations. The Council must remember that one of its primary responsibilities was to give peacekeeping missions realistic and attainable mandates, and in that context, the Council should carry out better analysis of situations on the ground to ensure that the objectives laid out could be met. One of the most powerful instruments of prevention was early action by the Council, and in that context, he called attention to the importance of reports from the Peacebuilding Commission.
MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) stressed the need for a common and clear strategy regarding challenges, expectations, resources and requirements for the appropriate performance of missions, in compliance with their mandates. The primary change that had led to increased causalities among peacekeeping staff was the establishment of missions in unstable, complex and high-risk scenarios where the peace simply could not be kept. The inclusion of civilian protection mandates had been one of the most important developments in the present century and was a matter that should not be solely considered from a military perspective; but rather should been seen in a broader political and humanitarian context. It was essential for all Member States to work towards a clear, common understanding of the implications of such activities, including where the use of force was required to protect civilians under threat of violence.
JORGE MORAGAS SÁNCHEZ (Spain) said that the United Nations had a unique added value as a result of its broad legitimacy and extraordinary capacity to seek dialogue in a variety of scenarios. Current crises must be dealt with through a more effective and realistic approach. There must be better planning for missions and assurances that the legal basis for missions and their relevant mandates were adapted to the reality of the crisis. All actors must operate with clear-cut, measurable objectives and indicators for accountability, and those objectives must be based on decisive and well-defined conditions. New crises required new capabilities, he said, highlighting the need for greater emphasis on predeployment training, intelligence and offensive capacities, among others. The international community must optimize resources and seek synergies among international and regional organizations. The consolidation of peace must be the result of an ongoing process with realistic strategies to ensure that the institutions of the host States could maintain peace in the future.
TANMAYA LAL (India), voicing concern that questions about the limitations of several complex peacekeeping missions showed little sign of resolution, declared: “The issue has been debated here long enough.” Besides the changing nature of armed conflicts themselves, the chronic lack of clarity in mandates, matches in resources and lack of consultation with troop-contributing countries, there was also a lack of focus on political solutions to building and sustaining peace. Calling for a coherent approach to addressing those challenges — as well as the political will to do so — he urged the Council to use its Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations to reach an agreement on strategic objectives for the mission, design mandates, and monitor the capacity to achieve them. The Working Group could submit recommendations for the Council’s consideration after consulting with a broad range of actors including troop contributors. He also called for stronger responses to the increasing attacks on peacekeepers and enhanced efforts to increase women’s engagement in peacekeeping operations.
SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends on the Responsibility to Protect, said today marked the first time that a group of 50 States and the European Union delivered an intervention in an open Council debate. While protecting civilians was the primary responsibility of Governments, it had become a central element of many peacekeeping mandates. Outlining missions’ tools to support States in that regard, he said threats of violence against civilians should inform planning and decision-making in peacekeeping. Member States and the Secretariat should enable missions to improve their analytical skills and help them develop better awareness of emerging threats, allowing them to respond before a situation escalated. The United Nations Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes could assist in analysing conditions that might increase the likelihood of atrocities or trigger their commission. The effective implementation of peacekeeping mandates required a shared responsibility among all stakeholders, with regional and subregional organizations leading international responses to mass atrocities.
Speaking in his national capacity, and endorsing the European Union position, he said protecting civilians, preventing conflict, peacebuilding and sustaining peace were the fundamental principles of peacekeeping. The Kigali Principles and the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers should be fully implemented, especially as related to child protection. Encouraging the Secretary-General to advance his vision of a “peace continuum”, with the quest for political solutions as its primary goal, he went on to cite African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the “Group of Five” Sahel Force as examples of cooperation with regional organizations. Italy supported the use of United Nations assessed contributions for African-led peace operations, he said, provided that appropriate standards of troop quality, financial transparency, human rights compliance, conduct and discipline were met. Italy was also engaged in an initiative, launched jointly with Bangladesh, on the management of field missions’ environmental impact throughout their life cycle.
NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) said there was a need to “do our job better” in preventing and responding to threats to peace. Negotiations this year in the Special Committee had focused on performance, “and rightly so”, as missions could be judged by what they did and did not accomplish. Troop-contributing countries had not, and would not, shy away from discussing performance, he said, calling for efforts to address resource gaps and exit strategies instead of focusing only on cutting costs. The recent “protection by projection” pilot initiative in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) had shown it was challenging to protect civilians only by projecting power. The requisite resources and capabilities were also needed. On strategic coherence in pursuit of political solutions, he said peacekeeping operations must facilitate progress towards sustaining peace. Peacekeepers were not there to negotiate solutions; only to support those processes. Welcoming investments in mediation, he said the Secretary-General’s initiative to reform reporting lines could provide logistical support to missions. Reforms must include a rethink of the Secretariat’s performance, as well as the Council’s mindset in putting together realistic and achievable mandates.
JOANNE ADAMSON of the European Union said the Union was a key peace and security partner of the African Union, regional organizations and the African countries. It had given more than €2.6 billion via the African Peace Facility for African-led peace and security operations. The experience with the Group of Five Sahel Joint Force was “a combination of efforts never seen before” as the European Union and the United Nations came together to support an African Union‑mandated initiative to tackle terrorism, organized crime, people smuggling and human trafficking in the region, and thus improve the security in Mali. The European Union was also reimbursing MINUSMA’s financial support to the Group of Five Sahel and its establishment of human rights and international humanitarian law. The role of regional organizations in United Nations‑authorized interventions had to be increased. The European Union was committed to support Africa’s efforts to manage its own security.
The European Union cooperation with the United Nations was deepening on topics of mutual interest, such as the security sector reform, she said. The number of uniformed and civilian women in peacekeeping needed to increase. Improving the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations had to be considered in the wider context of United Nations reform, including the initiatives launched by the Secretary-General on management, the peace and security pillar and on the development system. She stressed the importance of political solutions to conflicts, prevention and the need to reduce the environmental impact of peacekeeping operations. Peacebuilding was key as “prevention and sustaining peace must be thought of as a continuous process”, she said. Protection of civilians, including children, must be at the core of peacekeeping mandates.
DANNY DANON (Israel) said peacekeeping responses must evolve to match the realities on the ground. Peacekeepers must be properly protected and supplied with training and knowledge, as well as technical equipment, so they could fulfil their mandates. Israel was actively providing knowledge, expert advice and medical training, as well as supplying technological support to peacekeeping operations. The United Nations must continue to enforce its zero-tolerance policy and enhance its efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse. Israel was committed to the full protection of peacekeepers and would continue to provide support to peacekeeping operations. To ensure the success of missions, the Council must provide them with proper mandates and ensure they were fully implemented.
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said that the protection of civilians and critical civilian infrastructure should remain a constant and crucial dimension of peacekeeping. It was important that peacekeepers help create the necessary conditions for the safe and dignified return of refugees, other forced migrants and internally displaced persons. The challenge of making the best decision as to when to launch and close a peacekeeping operation was made more acute by the fact that no two conflicts were the same. The active participation of host countries in the orientation and training of peacekeepers was an important component to ensuring the success of a mission.
AUDRA PLEPYTĖ (Lithuania), associating herself with the European Union, said that, as a troop-contributing country, Lithuania had a great interest in making United Nations peacekeeping more efficient and capable. Given the increased focus on the protection of civilians, it was essential to train peacekeepers in humanitarian issues, human rights and gender sensitivity. Predeployment assessment was critical and all allegations of misconduct must be thoroughly investigated, with repatriation the only solution in instances of shortcomings or misconduct. Participation of women should be strengthened and it was the Security Council’s responsibility to set sound, realistic and achievable mandates. Greater investment in preventative diplomacy, early action and mediation remained vital, as well, she said, adding that the United Nations could no longer afford living from one report on peacekeeping operations to another without implementing the ideas and recommendations contained therein.
MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), aligning himself with the European Union and Italy’s statement on behalf of the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, welcomed the December 2017 report titled “Improving security of United Nations peacekeepers” and urged the Secretariat to implement its recommendations. Slovakia had participated in European Union military and civilian missions in many conflict situations and was currently participating in United Nations missions in Cyprus, the Golan Heights and Haiti. He voiced Slovakia’s full support for the ongoing political process aimed at the reunification of Cyprus. He expressed concern over the supply side of peacekeeping operation and called for tackling as a matter priority the difficulty in getting enough troops, the right equipment and adequate logistical support. Improving the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations should be carried out in conjunction with other reforms, as well as the peacebuilding and sustaining peace agenda. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s initiative to review the limitations of traditional peacekeeping operations. South Africa and Slovakia, as co-chairs of the Group of Friends of Security Sector Reform, would organize a high-level round table on security sector reform and sustaining peace on 23 April to better position such reform into the broader sustaining peace agenda, particularly the General Assembly’s high-level meeting on peacebuilding and sustaining Peace to follow, on 24 and 25 April.
FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal), associating himself with the European Union, said it was imperative to strengthen and modernize peacekeeping operations. In that regard, Portugal supported the reforms initiated by the Secretary-General, with missions going beyond peacekeeping and peace enforcement to include early warning mechanisms. He emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach and direct cooperation with local, regional and international partners. He underscored his country’s participation in several United Nations peacekeeping missions, including MINUSMA and United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), and the importance it attached to training its blue helmets to strictly respect human rights codes of conducts and international human rights law.
TEODORO L. LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines), associating himself with ASEAN, recalled that his country had signed the Voluntary Compact against sexual abuse in peacekeeping. It had renewed its pledge at the second Chiefs of Defence Conference to provide more military officers, observers and staff, and to deploy more women peacekeepers. Reaffirming peacekeeping as a key element of ASEAN’s political and security cooperation with the United Nations, he said 45,000 police, military advisers and troops from its member States were currently deployed in 12 United Nations peacekeeping missions. While the Philippines had scaled down its contributions due to local exigencies, it remained resolved to again increase the number of troops to such missions. Underscoring the need for more investment in local political solutions to conflicts, which the United Nations must reinforce and not supplant, he said missions in complex, high‑risk environments should be measured by the mandate to protect civilians. He also voiced support for more triangular consultations and adherence to United Nations resolutions without any political colouration. “If the politics of peacekeeping are not national, then it is foreign interference.”
CARLA ESPERANZA RIVERA SÁNCHEZ (El Salvador) said that peacekeeping operations continued to be one of the most effective mechanisms for providing collective assistance to countries experiencing conflict. El Salvador had a historic commitment to peacekeeping and supported any political process aimed at creating inclusive and legitimate Governments. Her country was currently contributing to eight different missions and had deployed 204 men and women. There was a need to carry out triangular consultations with the Security Council, troop- and police-contributing countries and the Secretariat. The views of troop- and police-contributing countries should be kept in mind, including as policies were drafted and decisions were taken. She called attention to the important role of women and children, and called for their full participation in the promotion and maintenance of peace.
DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that his country was the sixth largest troop- and police-contributing country, serving in 14 of 15 missions. Designing peacekeeping mandates must be based on thorough and broad analysis of conflicts and their causes. Further, mandates must be clearly communicated to the peacekeepers, and along with peacekeepers’ capacities, continuously aligned with evolving ground realities. The United Nations should work closely with relevant regional organizations in designing and implementing mandates without undermining host country sovereignty, he said, adding that peacekeepers must earn the trust and confidence of the civilians they protected. Peacekeepers should always be able to operate from a high morale standpoint and given adequate measures to ensure their safety, security and dignity, he said.
MOHAMED SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti), describing Africa as “a huge laboratory” for peacekeeping operations, said mission concepts must constantly be reassessed and the composition of peacekeeping forces adjusted. Troop- and police‑contributing countries must be flexible and adaptive, deploying personnel who met combat standards in order to fill capability gaps. He went on to underscore the need for shared responsibility, as well as investment in peace.
SIMA SAMI I. BAHOUS (Jordan), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said her country valued the Secretary-General’s efforts to reform and restructure peacekeeping. All relevant stakeholders had a responsibility for designing achievable peacekeeping mandates, she said, underscoring also the importance of close cooperation between regional and local organizations, host countries and mission commanders. Excellent training was a main pillar for successful peacekeeping, and in that regard, Jordan had established a peacekeeping training institute for the personnel it contributed to United Nations operations.
FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said the intensity and sophistication of asymmetric threats were serious challenges to peacekeeping missions. Turkey supported all efforts aimed at ensuring the safety and security of peacekeeping personnel, including through improved training. Peacekeeping operations continued to be one of the most effective tools for addressing conflicts. The mandates given to missions should be commensurate with the resources provided, and missions must be equipped with logistical support systems, as well as other means for improving the performance of troops and police. Given the magnitude and complexity of global challenges, the United Nations should further enhance its cooperation with regional organizations and put in place more effective mechanisms to support peacekeeping operations.
DARJA BAVDAŽ-KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends on the Responsibility to Protect, said Member States had a collective responsibility to improve security for peacekeepers and civilians. Every peacekeeping mission must be supported by properly trained, well-equipped and motivated troops. In that regard, troop- and police-contributing countries must invest more in training and equipment. The gender perspective must be integrated into all phases of peacekeeping, while due regard must be given to the peacekeeping code of conduct, including the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay), noting that Uruguay was among the top 20 troop- and police-contributing countries, said the Security Council must not lose sight of the fact that political solutions should guide peacekeeping mandates. Peacekeeping operations must enjoy the support of a unified Council, which, in turn, must ensure that host countries respected status of forces agreements. Given the increase in attacks on United Nations staff and facilities, there was no reason not to give peacekeeping forces clear rules to respond. Noting the work of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations during its 2018 session, he said the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) must approve sufficient resources when it took up the peacekeeping budget in the coming weeks.
KAREN VAN VLIERBERGE (Belgium) paid tribute to the blue helmets that had sacrificed their lives, many far from their homes. Indeed, those peacekeepers were targets for what they were and what their represented. Despite that, there had been several successful missions, including in Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone, she noted. She emphasized the importance of training contingents. In that regard, gaps must be identified before troops were deployed and up-to-date rosters must be maintained, she said, noting that her country had contributed to capacity‑building in French‑speaking countries. She went on to call for more effective use of intelligence, particularly in asymmetrical environments, such as Mali, where it was important to ensuring the security of civilians. Concerning the use of strategic reviews, she said they were needed to readjust missions and bring them into conformity or on the other hand, adapt mandates that had become unrealistic or unachievable on the ground. Looking ahead to upcoming conferences on the reform agenda, her Government stood ready to contribute to those discussions.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said peacekeeping was no longer a uniform, monolithic enterprise. Over the years, there had been major shifts in peacekeeping mandates, theatres and operational modalities. While the notion of review and reform had been embedded in peacekeeping, there was no specific institutional mechanism within the Secretariat to steer the reform initiatives in a coherent and sustainable manner. It was crucial that an objective assessment of the political process guided the design and review of peacekeeping mandates. For its part, Bangladesh’s peacekeepers remained open to receiving objective assessment and appraisal of their performance. Performance, however, could not be seen in isolation from the fundamental questions of needs-based, predictable resources and critical enablers specific to each peacekeeping mission.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine), aligning himself with the European Union, said that wars, armed conflicts and aggression were still proliferating and often spiralling out of control, which meant that the United Nations needed to be proactive and preventive in its actions. Comprehensive reform of United Nations peacekeeping would be important for the Organization’s continued success and relevance. So would the use of appropriate modern technologies and reinforcement of intelligence capacities as well as strengthening police capabilities. Efforts to eradicate sexual violence in peacekeeping were also a priority, he said, adding that there was significant room for increasing women’s participation in peacekeeping activities. It was also critical to ensure that peacekeeping operations were not leaving behind harmful environmental footprints.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said that more than 10 years had elapsed since funding for Council-mandated African Union peacekeeping missions was first discussed, yet there had been no visible progress in that regard. The time had come for the United Nations to lend tangible support to African Union operations. Underscoring the role of women in peacekeeping operations, he said his country intended to assign more women to its own peacekeeping contingent. Mandates must be realistic and tailored to the situation on the ground, he said, adding that it was important to manage expectations and to avoid over‑promising and underdelivering. In that regard, a 750‑strong contingent could not be expected to protect civilians over an area as big as an entire country, he stated.
MODEST JONATHAN MERO (United Republic of Tanzania) had deployed military, police and corrections personnel to peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Darfur, Abyei, South Sudan, Lebanon and the Central African Republic. As peacekeepers encountered belligerents whose battle lines were unclear, it was vital to have a community of peacekeeping nations rather than a disparate aggregation of contributors of troops, personnel, finances and resources. Clear mandates must be issued and implemented by all actors. Concerned that troop- and police-contributing countries in high-risk missions were not consulted, he stressed the importance of respecting contributing countries’ doctrines and training standards, and encouraged missions to put in place mechanisms to regulate and evaluate a contingent’s readiness. He stressed the importance of the effective triangular cooperation among troop- and police-contributing countries, the Secretariat and the Security Council to renew and revitalize peacekeeping operations. The current downsizing of force levels due to budgetary constraints left the blue helmets overstretched and vulnerably, putting their lives in jeopardy. Troops must be equipped with suitable weaponry.
KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia) said the increased number of casualties among peacekeepers was a sobering reminder that United Nations and troop- and police‑contributing countries must transform. Along with greater focus on the military component of missions, it was vital to focus on political contexts and mandates. Missions alone could not produce lasting peace; political solutions and support on the ground were needed. At the same time, mandates and capacities must be clearly defined. While Georgia did not have a full-fledged operation with a mandate, the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) had played a key role in achieving security from 1993. Because of a veto casted by a certain permanent Council member, the mission was discontinued in 2009, creating a dangerous precedent and a vacuum of international presence in the occupied regions of Georgia.
OSCAR OCTAVIO GONZÁLEZ PARRA (Colombia) said the time had come to deploy contingents that were able to confront evolving challenges. Restructuring the peace and security pillar was essential in order to turn words into deeds. He advocated a focus on the contributions of Member States on specific goals and ideas aimed at achieving the highest aspirations. He expressed support for the report on the review of the peacebuilding architecture, emphasizing that peace operations should centre on people. He also highlighted the need to overcome the deficit of women’s contribution in peacekeeping. For its part, Colombia was a police-contributing country, including in Haiti, and had begun to contribute to other missions, as well seeking to strengthen training and increase the number of Colombian police officers in peacekeeping operations. As a country committed to peace, it could not skirt its responsibilities, he said.
WOUTER ZAAYMAN (South Africa), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Council must ensure that peacekeeping operations were fully resourced and given appropriate mandates, while also ensuring that peacekeepers are adequately equipped to protect themselves. Although the primary responsibility for international peace and security fell with the Security Council, it was often regional organizations, such as the African Union, that deployed early to stabilize crisis situations. In that context, the use of United Nations assessed contributions would provide the most reliable, sustainable and predictable avenue of support for Council-mandated African Union peace operations.
OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) welcomed the fact that the Secretariat had already started to implement key recommendations of the Santos Cruz report. He underlined the importance of securing sustainable and predicable funding for peace operations, including in settings where the United Nations was working in partnership with others. He emphasized the role of equipment in increasing the safety and security of United Nations peacekeepers. Equipment must be adequate to prevent attacks, identify perpetrators and eliminate threats. The quality and availability of up-to-date medical care was crucial to limit casualties and injuries after attack. Noting that some field personnel were active in highly volatile, hazardous and intensely hostile areas, he said Member States and the United Nations were morally and legally bound to ensure that duty of care was fulfilled. To mitigate risk, certified predeployment training and other preparatory work must be carried out by all parties involved.
ANAYANSI RODRIGUEZ CAMEJO (Cuba), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, underscored the role of the Special Committee for Peacekeeping Operations, adding that reforms should only be implemented by Member States through the appropriate organs. Peacekeeping deployments should strictly adhere to the United Nations Charter, including respect for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs. Cuba was not convinced that Council approval of mandates which envisioned the use of force beyond self-defence could improve the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. Use of force had political implications that could lead to unpredictable circumstances, including attacks on United Nations personnel. She went on to emphasize that peacekeeping operations were not designed or equipped for counter‑terrorism operations, nor could they be seen as a substitute for tackling the root causes of conflict.
ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said peacekeeping was about creating a safer tomorrow for those with little hope. While peacekeeping could keep warring parties apart, it was equally important to address the causes of conflict and create conditions that would enable affected communities to enjoy peace dividends. That called for an analytical framework enabling the Council to consider changes to peacekeeping mandates. It was important to integrate the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development into peacekeeping operations, with greater focus on poverty alleviation and inclusive economic and social development. The Organization should act as “one United Nations” in helping a country to sustain, and when required, keep peace, he said.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali) praised Canada’s recent decision to deploy an air operation as part of the peacekeeping mission in his country. As host of MINUSMA, one of the Organization’s largest missions, Mali was very much attuned to blue helmets and their service to peace and security around the world. The expectations of the Malian people depended on the work of the Council. Acknowledging that the nature of conflict had changed, he said bold reforms were needed to improve peacekeeping operations. Indeed, MINUSMA had not been deployed in a traditional environment. It faced asymmetrical attacks by terrorist groups and traffickers, which explained its need for a robust mandate. It needed to adopt a more offensive nature to protect itself and its staff, but also to protect civilians. It was essential to boost the Mission’s capacity to better position it to deliver its mandate. He praised the initiative of the Secretary-General to boost the effectiveness to missions, with a particular focus on prevention before underscoring the importance of regional organizations in boosting the success of peacekeeping operations.
MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt) said peacekeeping operations had been burdened with unrealistic expectations. Citing the situation on the ground, the deployment of some missions had become a symbol of the United Nations inability to resolve long‑standing conflicts, he said. Addressing the technical and personnel shortcomings of a mission was insufficient. There was a need to improve partnership between the main actors in peacekeeping operations to ensure joint ownership at all levels, he said, stressing the importance of the African Union in particular. However, it was not enough to hold official meetings; coordination was needed at the official level, in the design of peacekeeping mandates. At the same time, when assessing the effectiveness of peace operations, we must look at the political and tactical conditions on the ground. In regard to training, there was need to select the best trained forces, based on the requirements of each mission. Nevertheless, the safety and security of peacekeepers could not be addressed by training alone. Political efforts towards addressing the conflict in question were essential.
KORNELIOS KORNELIOU (Cyprus) said that, as a country that had relied on United Nations peacekeeping, it was all the more conscious of its responsibility to do its share in the collective effort to give blue helmets the means to deliver the mandates entrusted to them. Peacekeeping operations should continuously undergo modernization and renewal in order to adjust to contemporary needs. While acknowledging the need to undertake reviews, it was paramount that such reviews were rigorous, evidence-based and conducted in close consultation with the host country, as was the case with United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). More broadly, peacekeeping played an indispensable role in ensuring the necessary stability and security on the ground that, in turn, enabled and facilitated the political process.
NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), aligning herself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, stressed the importance of clearly defining the mandate of each mission and enhancing capacity-building and predeployment training. Encouraging the participation of women in peacekeeping missions was vital, she said, highlighting the importance of triangular partnership and consultation. More attention should also be paid to cooperation with regional and subregional organizations to make use of their practical experience on the ground. Further, greater focus should be given to preventive diplomacy and mediation.
AGNESE VILDE (Latvia) noted that peacekeeping environments had become more complex and riskier than ever, as evidenced by the recent increase of attacks on peacekeeping missions and personnel. It was important to bridge the gaps in United Nations capabilities when it came to rapid deployment of peacekeeping missions. The ultimate goal of the peacekeeping reform efforts must be the creation of missions with realistic mandates that met the practical necessities of the host nation or area of deployment. The lack of situational awareness and localized intelligence analysis, especially when missions were exposed to asymmetric threats, was of concern, she said, adding that Latvia fully supported United Nations efforts to better integrate modern technologies and intelligence capabilities into peacekeeping efforts.
M. SHAHRUL IKRAM YAAKOB (Malaysia), aligning himself with ASEAN and the Non‑Aligned Movement, recalled that Malaysia first participated in a peacekeeping operation in 1960 and currently participated in 6 out of 16 missions, contributing nearly 1,000 peacekeepers. The reform of peacekeeping operations should focus on the continuous strengthening and enhancing of mission capabilities. Military, police and civilian personnel deployed in volatile and perilous locations and must be equipped with the right aptitude, strong survival skills and unquestionable competency. Given that each peacekeeping mission was unique, the various challenges on the ground, such as the mission’s components, environment and equipment, must be taken into account. Malaysia welcomed the African Union’s resolve in taking up a more prominent leadership role and enhancing its member States’ peacekeeping capabilities.
VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda) said she hoped the meeting would be the one that changed the international community’s course. Peacekeeping was the most effective United Nations contribution to peace and security, but there was room for improvement. Political commitments made in the chamber needed to transcend past the halls and materialize on the ground. She went on to highlight the importance of deploying more female peacekeepers, noting that victims of gender‑based violence and sexual exploitation found it easier to interact with female peacekeepers. Turning to the importance of reliable and accurate data, she called for greater cooperation among the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Department of Political Affairs and the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate. In conclusion, she called for a pragmatic dialogue on peacekeeping centred on what was working and not working on the ground, including its specific impact on people in conflict zones.
MILAN MILANOVIC (Serbia), associating himself with the European Union, and noting that his country was the leading troop-contributing country in south‑eastern Europe, said the Secretary-General’s reform proposals marked an important step forward. Serbia’s commitment to peacekeeping was motivated in part by the fact that it was host to the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Recent events in Kosovo and Metohija, including the unjustified arrest of a senior Serbian official and beating of innocent civilians by the “Kosovo Police Force” on 26 March, were reminders of the province’s complex political and security situation. Today’s reality was a clarion call to focus on the quest for a compromise and sustainable solution for the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, and to strengthen UNMIK’s presence and activities, he added.
LUKE DAUNIVALU (Fiji) said that, as a troop- and police-contributing country for around 40 years, Fiji took great pride in its participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions. Peacekeeping forces must be provided adequate resources, and while budgetary considerations were relevant, they should not be the primary factor for determining whether a Member State contributed peacekeepers to a mission. Effective political processes were key to achieving the goals of peacekeeping missions, and in turn, to bring such deployments to a swift and successful conclusion. “Peace is best pursued in partnership,” he added, underscoring Fiji’s expectation, as a troop- and police-contributing country, to be fully consulted by the Secretariat vis-à-vis mandates, as well as operational and strategic changes.
MAGDI AHMED MOFADAL ELNOUR (Sudan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) demonstrated the value of cooperation with regional organizations as per Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter. Joint efforts towards peace in Darfur and the gradual withdrawal of UNAMID had resulted from strong political will on the part of Sudan, United Nations and other partners, proving that goals would never be achieved without concerted efforts by all stakeholders. International pressure must be brought to bear on all parties that refused to join the path to peace. He set out several suggestions based on Sudan’s experience, including to regularly review peacekeeping mandates, provide training to peacekeepers, promote partnership with all stakeholders, make greater efforts to develop conflict-affected regions, assign greater priority to preventative diplomacy, promote strategic partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, and set strategies for mission withdrawal.