Imbalance of Power between Peacekeepers, People They Protect Calls for Robust Safeguard Systems, Briefer Tells Members
The more than $7 billion spent annually on United Nations peacekeeping operations must achieve its best possible value on the ground, speakers emphasized today, as the Security Council considered how best to improve mission performance and hold failures accountable.
“United Nations peacekeeping cannot succeed without the engagement and the mobilization of all stakeholders, and, first and foremost, the Member States,” said Jean‑Pierre Lacroix, Under‑Secretary‑General for Peacekeeping Operations, in his briefing to the 15‑member Council. “Strengthening peacekeeping often requires strengthening the capacities of those who provide its men and women — the troop- and police‑contributing countries.”
He noted that since the Council adopted a landmark resolution on peacekeeping reform a year ago, many efforts have been made, including the Secretary‑General’s reform of the United Nations peace and security architecture and his launch of the Action for Peacekeeping initiative in March. In addition, the Secretariat established a clear framework of performance standards and assessments based on regular evaluations of military units, he said, adding that when performance falls short, the Secretariat will commission independent, ad hoc investigations to clarify the causes and circumstances of serious shortfalls in mandate implementation.
Also briefing the Council was Sarah Blakemore, CEO of the non‑governmental organization Keeping Children Safe, who said that, while the vast majority of peacekeepers perform their duties with courage and professionalism, some have subjected people in situations of extreme physical and psychological vulnerability to rape, trafficking, violence and abuse. “A significant portion of the victims have been children,” she pointed out, emphasizing that the vast imbalance of power between peacekeeping personnel and the people they are sent to protect makes it essential to put robust safeguard systems in place.
In the ensuing debate, Council members as well as delegates from troop- and police‑contributing countries exchanged views on how to address many challenges facing peacekeeping missions. The representative of the United States, Council President for September, spoke in her national capacity, saying her delegation will introduce a new draft resolution aimed at creating accountability measures for performance failures and recognizing the role of data in improving troop performance. “Accountability is not a dirty word,” she pointed out, stressing that the Council owes it not only to victims of abuse, but also to peacekeepers, who deserve to know that their colleagues can be counted upon not to abuse their power.
The Russian Federation’s delegate, however, said that such business falls under the purview of the intergovernmental Committee of 34, formally known as the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. Stressing the need to “clean up” some mandates, he voiced his delegation’s concerns about the inclusion of human rights and humanitarian elements, and the potential use of peacekeepers in counter‑terrorism operations.
Côte d’Ivoire’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African members of the Council, emphasized that peacekeeping is not only about troop‑contributing countries, and reform efforts cannot, therefore, focus solely on them. It is a collective endeavour involving Member States, the Council, host countries, troop‑contributing countries, financial contributors and regional partners, he pointed out, adding that this is adequately captured in the Declaration of Shared Commitments on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. He went on to emphasize that civilian and uniformed personnel cannot be expected to deliver on their mandated tasks without resources and capabilities matching their operational environment. “We cannot ask for more with less,” he stressed, adding that the Council is not immune to responsibility since it has not fully resolved the long‑standing problem of “Christmas tree mandates” — the product of Council members seeking the inclusion of favoured issues irrespective of their relevance or priority.
In similar vein, Pakistan’s delegate pointed out that national caveats hinder performance by giving one troop‑contributing country the leverage to refuse to perform in a given instance, thereby creating a disproportionate set of expectations. “A level playing field is a prerequisite for fair assessment of performance,” she stressed.
The United Kingdom’s representative said the United Nations must achieve “the best possible impact” on the ground, using its peacekeeping budget of more than $7 billion, while Peru’s delegate said that expenditure is “a tiny investment” compared with global military spending.
Also speaking today were representatives of Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Sweden, France, Poland, Netherlands, Bolivia, China, Rwanda, Canada, Senegal, Indonesia, Brazil, Bangladesh, Uruguay, Belgium, Romania and Fiji.
Also delivering statements were the Permanent Observer of the African Union and the Head of the European Union delegation.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 1:48 p.m.
JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under‑Secretary‑General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that almost a year ago, the Security Council adopted resolution 2378 (2017), a landmark text on peacekeeping reform, under the Presidency of Ethiopia, and many efforts have been made to enhance peacekeeping since then. To improve peacekeeping performance, the United Nations Secretariat, Member States, Security Council members, troop- and police‑contributing countries, host nations, as well as regional and subregional organizations must support each other, he emphasized. The Secretary‑General launched the Action for Peacekeeping initiative in March and put forward the Declaration of Shared Commitments on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations for the endorsement of all Member States. The Secretariat continues its efforts to enhance performance by implementing the Action Plan to strengthen the safety and security of United Nations peacekeepers.
From the beginning of 2018 until 31 August, 17 peacekeepers lost their lives due to acts of violence, down 32 per cent from 26 for the same period in 2017, he said, while emphasizing that “every peacekeeper killed is one too many”. The Secretariat is undertaking a series of independently led reviews of peacekeeping missions and taking forward the Secretary‑General’s reforms of the peace and security architecture to provide more integrated analysis and better country and regional strategies. It is also strengthening cooperation with key partners, such as the African Union and the European Union, he said, adding that, as a part of those efforts, the Secretariat is putting in place the policies and evaluation systems that will enable all collectively to better tailor efforts to strengthen peacekeeping.
For military personnel, he continued, the Secretariat will establish a clear framework of performance standards and assessments based on regular performance evaluations of military units, including on command and control, protection of civilians, conduct and discipline, and training, while investing significant resources in the development of the integrated performance policy framework. Data collection and analysis through the new comprehensive performance assessment system is also an integral element of the United Nations approach, he said, adding that the assessment process for recruiting mission leaders has been enhanced. The Secretariat also developed mechanisms to enhance accountability for cases in which performance falls short, establishing a system to commission independent, ad hoc investigations to clarify the causes and circumstances of incidents that indicate serious shortfalls in mandate implementation. The probes have fostered constructive engagement with troop- and police‑contributing countries, he noted.
“United Nations peacekeeping cannot succeed without the engagement and the mobilization of all stakeholders, and, first and foremost, the Member States,” he stressed. “Strengthening peacekeeping often requires strengthening the capacities of those who provide its men and women, the troop- and police‑contributing countries.” The Secretariat also established a committee to consider possible credible evidence of widespread or systematic sexual exploitation and abuse, or instances in which Member States may not have taken appropriate steps to investigate allegations. So far, 98 Member States have signed the voluntary compact with the Secretary‑General on the commitment to end sexual exploitation and abuse, he said, adding that 55 Member States have endorsed the Declaration of Shared Commitment.
SARAH BLAKEMORE, CEO, Keeping Children Safe, noted that the founding of her organization in 2002 coincided with the exposure of widespread sexual exploitation by peacekeeping personnel in refugee camps located in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. While the vast majority of peacekeepers perform their duties with courage and professionalism, some have subjected people in situations of extreme physical and psychological vulnerability to rape, trafficking, violence and abuse. “A significant portion of the victims have been children,” she pointed out, emphasizing that the vast imbalance of power between peacekeeping personnel and the people they are sent to protect makes it essential to put robust safeguard systems in place.
Noting that victims often have no way to report the abuse, no medical or psychosocial care, and no access to justice, she quoted a mother from Haiti: “I need the money to feed my children. Before we did not need to make money like this, but now there is no work or food.” Many women and their children suffer ongoing discrimination, she said, noting that “MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] children” were treated differently. She said many of the children had described to her the ongoing impact of being exploited by peacekeepers and called upon world leaders to champion the safety of children by requiring all organizations involved in peacekeeping to implement robust international child‑safeguarding standards, including the hiring of victims’ rights advocates.
NIKKI HALEY (United States), Council President for September, spoke in her national capacity, noting that while the ideals of peacekeeping are lofty, human beings are imperfect. Enumerating the many successes of United Nations peacekeeping around the world, she said peacekeepers were instrumental in Côte d’Ivoire’s transition from war to peace, and in South Sudan, where thousands of civilians are alive today thanks to the protection‑of‑civilians sites maintained by peacekeepers. But those success stories are overshadowed by instances in which peacekeepers were abusive and thus, destructive to the ideals they serve, she said. “We hear far too many stories about vulnerable civilians who put their trust in peacekeepers and peacekeepers who failed to protect them.” The Council is responsible for what peacekeepers do with their power, she said, lamenting that two years since the Council adopted resolution 2272 (2016) following a briefing on the horrible allegations of sexual abuse in the Central African Republic, “we are still waiting for justice for victims”.
While some critical steps have been taken, several peacekeeping units have faced repeated allegations which remain pending for years, she noted. Even more unbelievably, some perpetrators have gone unpunished and some accused troops remain deployed in United Nations missions, able to continue the abuse. Calling for clear and objective standards of performance and accountability, she said her delegation will introduce a new draft resolution aimed at empowering the Secretariat to accelerate progress in that regard. That draft will mandate a timely and transparent reporting process on performance failures, because “we can’t fix what we don’t know”, she said. It will also create accountability measures for performance failures and recognize the role of data in improving troop performance. “Accountability is not a dirty word,” she pointed out, stressing that the Council owes it not only to victims of abuse, but also to peacekeepers, who deserve to know that their colleagues can be counted upon not to abuse their power.
KACOU HOUADJA LÉON ADOM (Côte d’Ivoire), speaking on behalf of the African members of the Council, emphasized that peacekeeping is not only about troop‑contributing countries and reform efforts cannot, therefore, focus solely on them. It is a collective endeavour involving Member States, the Council, host countries, troop‑contributing countries, financial contributors and regional partners, he said, noting that this is adequately captured in the Declaration of Shared Commitments. Council resolution 2378 (2017) underlines the importance of adequate implementation and follow‑up, he noted, adding that the Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations, tasked with reviewing reform initiatives, has facilitated many important discussions on improving triangular cooperation, strategic force generation and capability planning.
While it is important to exert every possible effort to ensure that civilian and uniformed personnel have the necessary skills, he continued, they cannot be expected to deliver on their mandated tasks without the resources and capabilities that match their operational environment. “We cannot ask for more with less,” he stressed, adding that the Council is not immune to responsibility since it has not fully resolved the long‑standing problem of “Christmas tree mandates”. Noting also that much work has been done on strengthening mandates, as well as the management, oversight and accountability of African Union‑led peace support operations, he said it is about time that the Council takes steps to translate its expressed intentions into concrete action to finance African Union‑led peace support operations on a case‑by‑case basis.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), while expressing appreciation for the Secretary‑General’s peacekeeping reform efforts, and those of the Secretariat to maximize its efficiency, said his delegation has endorsed the Action Plan with reservations about its human rights elements. What is needed is a comprehensive approach involving the Security Council, troop- and police‑contributing countries, host countries and the Secretariat, he emphasized. Peacekeeping can only improve if there is a clear mandate, he said, adding that strategic reviews must aim to “clean up” some mandates, removing human rights and humanitarian elements, which are the responsibility of each individual country. Peacekeeping reform can best be discussed in an intergovernmental forum, such as the special Committee of 34 (Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations). Turning to the United Nations Charter, he said that flexible interpretation of its articles on the use of force in self‑defence is not acceptable, adding that his delegation has concerns about possible use of peacekeepers in counter‑terrorism operations. On attempts by the United States to adopt a resolution on peacekeeping performance, he emphasized that such efforts must not bypass the Committee of 34.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) called for innovative reforms, transformative changes and new yardsticks of measurement in every sector of the Organization’s peacekeeping. He recalled Kazakhstan’s proposed threefold strategy for preventing and addressing conflicts, which combines the security‑development nexus with revamped regional and “whole‑of‑system” approaches to enhance efficiency and accountability. Emphasizing that the mandates given to peacekeeping operations are often “beyond reasonable expectations” with scopes that are too expansive, he also urged that there be more realistic goals, including limiting violent conflict; reducing human suffering; preventing the spread of conflict beyond borders; and the promotion of conflict resolution. Performance in various areas — including the protection of civilians -- should be measured using technology, and malpractice of any kind must be investigated with accountability improved.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) described resolution 2378 (2017) as a very important reference, adding that his country will cooperate with the United States and other Council members on a resolution to support further avenues of peacekeeping reform. The international community must consider the achievements of United Nations peacekeeping, and the many success stories it has witnessed in the last seven decades. While stressing the importance of respect for the sovereignty of States, he said that tackling sexual exploitation and abuse requires synergy and cooperation. He applauded the rapid response by troop‑contributing countries, underlining that civilians in conflict situations have a right to feel safe from all threats.
OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), aligning himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, voiced his support for the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda, adding that the United Nations must be able to engage flexibly and effectively throughout the conflict cycle. For the Council to be able to do so when addressing conflict prevention, management and resolution — as well as protecting civilians — access to candid and timely information and analysis is critical. While welcoming efforts to streamline situation awareness, he emphasized that making peacekeeping more effective and efficient is a shared responsibility between troop- and police‑contributing countries, Member States, the United Nations and host countries. It requires a broad approach encompassing military, police and civilian personnel. Also expressing support for the development of a comprehensive performance policy, he said harmonizing standards and guidelines and boosting cooperation between the United Nations and such regional organizations as the African Union is critical.
KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said there have been some important successes in United Nations peacekeeping reform but there is a long way to go, while commending uniformed and civilian personnel for carrying out their duties in challenging environments. Peacekeeping operations must achieve “the best possible impact from the $7 billion” in funding, she emphasized. The United Kingdom disagrees with a view expressed today regarding human rights and humanitarian elements, she said, stressing that peacekeeping is not separate from peacebuilding and development. Peacekeeping must get it right from the start, with clearly defined mandates and coordination. Noting that 27 different United Nations entities are on the ground in Sudan’s Darfur region, she said they cannot work in silos and their comparative advantages must be used in a coordinated manner. Performance is critical, she said, stressing that missions must therefore be adequately equipped and their personnel thoroughly trained. It is essential to strengthen the feedback loop by introducing a comprehensive evaluation and accountability policy framework. She concluded by saying the United Kingdom contributed $3 million to support the Secretary‑General’s effort to address sexual exploitation and abuse.
GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru), welcoming the Declaration of Shared Commitment and the action plan for peacekeeping, said that a centralized analysis based on clear parameters is needed, emphasizing that the process must be inclusive of all stakeholders. Peacekeeping must be evaluated on the basis of actual capability, operational intelligence and exit strategy. Coordination with the Peacebuilding Commission and United Nations country teams is necessary, and personnel must be trained on human rights and humanitarian law. It is vital to increase the number of women peacekeepers as missions interact with civilian populations, and to enhance mission planning. He called for dynamic and flexible support for the missions in order to enhance mandate implementation, stressing that the Secretariat as well as troop- and police‑contributing countries must engage in deeper dialogue on performance. He pointed out that expenditure on peacekeeping is “a tiny investment” compared with global military spending.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France), emphasizing that peacekeeping reform is essential to the future of the United Nations, encouraged the Secretary‑General to go down the road recommended by the Cruz report. Stressing the importance of training before and during mission deployment, he said that France trains 30,000 French‑speaking African soldiers. The United Nations must improve force generation and capacity projection while increasing the number of women in peacekeeping missions. Robust evaluation mechanisms are necessary to rectify underperformance, he said, underlining that “Blue Helmets” must behave in a responsible manner. There must be a culture of performance based on clear accountability and incentive mechanisms. Sequenced and prioritized mandates are important and must be supported by funding, he said, adding that stronger partnerships with regional actors, such as the African Union, are essential.
JOANNA WRONECKA (Poland) said that information and data‑driven analysis is the founding principle and entry point to improved peacekeeping. Better situational awareness improves planning and allows for clear and well‑understood benchmarks to be identified. That chain reaction leads all to the effective implementation of the mandate and is indispensable in the missions’ goal which is to protect civilians and United Nations personnel. With communication critical in the process of putting political pressure on key stakeholders, the host countries must be included as they play a pivotal role and own the national political process. While the United Nations military force depends on Member States’ contributions, it is also crucial to focus on the challenges faced by women within the individual States’ military recruitment process.
KAREL J.G. VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union and recalling his delegation’s role in co‑facilitating the Secretary‑General’s “A4P [Action for Peacekeeping] Declaration”, underscored that increasing the number of uniformed women in peace operations is critical to improving performance. That focus is a key to operational effectiveness as well as the success and sustainability of peace processes and peacebuilding. Welcoming the creation of Female Engagement Teams and efforts to institutionalize them, he called for a comprehensive and integrated performance policy with clear standards and accountability. Peacekeeping personnel must also continue to adhere to a zero‑tolerance policy for sexual exploitation and abuse. As stated in the Cruz report, mission leadership and troop- and police‑contributing countries must change their mindsets, take risks and show a willingness to adapt to the new reality of peacekeeping. Missions must be well trained and properly equipped. “The United Nations and Member States can do more to better coordinate training and address specific training needs,” he added, calling for innovative force generation and smart pledging.
VERÓNICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia) said the regrettable actions of some individuals in peacekeeping missions should not overshadow the good work of others risking their lives on the ground. Calling for a close examination of each peacekeeping mission, she emphasized that their presence requires the permission and full support of host countries. Peace operations must always be impartial and used only to build lasting peace, never as intervention forces, she said, stressing that they must fully respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of the countries where they serve. They must also have realistic and achievable mandates, she added. “It is not possible for us to have missions renewed decade after decade.” Noting that adequate and effective support requires strong analytical tools, she called for peace operations to become more nimble and adhere to strict institutional frameworks. Equipping missions is not the responsibility of troop- and police‑contributing countries alone, she said, while noting that providing them with the proper support is not possible in the context of ongoing budget cuts.
WU HAITAO (China) emphasized that the landscape in which peacekeeping missions are currently deployed is increasingly complex, requiring constant adaptation. He emphasized that the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter — as well as the basic principles of peacekeeping — must always be obeyed as a sine qua non for their success. Political solutions must always retain their primacy, and missions should be given realistic, achievable mandates that can be adjusted in accordance with needs on the ground. Urging the United Nations to fully leverage its partnership with such regional and subregional organizations as the African Union, he expressed support for the idea of forming a standing army and a rapid deployment force alongside the bloc. Spotlighting the special needs of developing countries who are troop and police contributors, he said China current deploys more than 2,500 peacekeepers across various missions and has a standby force of some 8,000 personnel, emphasizing that it is committed to helping developing countries build up their own capacity in training and deployment.
FATIMA KYARI MOHAMMED, Permanent Observer of the African Union, welcomed the growing partnership between her organization and the United Nations, saying it continues to reach milestones, as evidenced by the 2017 Framework for an Enhanced Partnership on Peace and Security. Emphasizing the need for predictable and secure financial mechanisms to respond to security challenges, she recalled that the African Union committed itself to funding 25 per cent of its peace and security efforts and is working to operationalize its Peace Fund. As of July, contributions to that Fund stood at $47.7 million, the highest level since it was established, she said. Meanwhile, the African Union is enhancing its systems for tracking compliance, accountability, selection, screening and misconduct. Turning to issues of cooperation, she said more must be done to ensure greater convergence between the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council. For example, the latter’s resolution 2431 (2018) does not explicitly recognize critical issues relating to the African Union’s role in Somalia, she pointed out.
JOÃO VALE DE ALMEIDA, Head of the European Union delegation, underlined the importance of reform efforts in management, logistics, procurement and human resources, as well as the development of a comprehensive performance policy, saying they will help a culture of performance to thrive. The performance policy should tackle several key aspects, such as how to forge consensus around the strategic objectives set out in peacekeeping mandates, and how to improve mandate design, prioritize tasks, enhance training and better monitor achievements. Ambiguities in standards and guidelines can lead peacekeepers to fail, he cautioned. Predeployment and in‑mission training should include a gender perspective as well as components on international humanitarian law and international human rights law, he continued. Emphasizing the essential nature of the United Nations‑European Union partnership on peace operations and crisis management, he said the latter’s member States have contributed high‑value assets, such as modern technology and intelligence capabilities, to missions, including the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO). He called for data‑driven analysis that can help improve the situational awareness of troops in real time and welcomed efforts to incentivize the deployment of more women in United Nations peacekeeping missions, including in positions of leadership.
VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda) said the Security Council should continue to help the Secretariat develop an integrated performance policy framework for mandate implementation based on clear standards for all relevant civilian and uniformed personnel working in missions as well as support staff in the Secretariat. The Council should also clearly define in its mandates the capabilities required for civilian and uniformed personnel. The Kigali Principles — a set of best practices covering the most relevant aspects of peacekeeping — can effectively enhance peacekeeping performance, while providing accountability standards, she said, adding that they encourage high levels of training to ensure that peacekeepers are prepared to use force to protect civilians. The Secretariat should conduct investigations into cases of performance failure and consider such factors as the role of uniformed and civilian components, resource capabilities, decision‑making processes, lack of clear guidance from the mandate, or caveats imposed by troop- and police‑contributing countries.
MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada), noting that the Organization is not on track to meet the targets it set for the increased deployment of women to uniformed peacekeeping roles, said that leveraging the contributions and performance of uniformed women will require honest reflection at Headquarters, in missions and in contributing countries. Turning to the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse, he said it is clearly not only a conduct and discipline issue, but also one of performance, effectiveness and legitimacy. Expressing support for the zero‑tolerance policy, he said more must be done to clarify the role of the victims’ rights advocates, and more broadly how a victim‑centred approach should be articulated in policy and practice. Acknowledging the complexity of improving peacekeeping performance, he said part of that effort starts at home, and called upon Member States to work with national institutions.
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal), associating himself with the African Union, said peacekeeping reform must be viewed through the prism of new challenges to international peace and security. Emphasizing the importance of modernizing equipment and improving funding, he called for more dialogue among troop‑contributing and donor countries, the Council and the Secretariat. It is also necessary to adjust peacekeeping operations to each theatre of performance, he said, noting that missions are increasingly calling for modern military technology. He stressed the importance of training, especially since missions are operating working in such diverse areas as humanitarian assistance, mine clearance and judiciary reform. He went on to note that regional and subregional organizations have shown not only their willingness, but also their effectiveness in taking on larger roles in peacekeeping.
DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said that, since the mandate of a peacekeeping mission is the logical basis for setting its key performance indicators, the mandate “can no longer be a Christmas tree”. Emphasizing that peacekeeping missions cannot substitute for United Nations special political missions and other peacebuilding work, he said that in the absence of functional peace agreements, there is a high risk of attacks and fatalities. “There should be clear, focused, sequenced, prioritized, realistic and achievable mandates,” he added. Necessary capabilities must be deployed so that peacekeepers can protect themselves and the local population, he said, emphasizing that all peacekeeping components must be “up to the mark”. He appealed to the Council not to design a performance system that will create competition among personnel‑contributing countries, adding: “Peacekeeping is supposedly a platform where nations can work hand in hand in contributing towards international peace and security, not the other way around.” He also stressed the need for women to participate meaningfully in peacekeeping.
FREDERICO DUQUE ESTRADA MEYER (Brazil) joined other speakers in calling for needed changes in some aspects of peacekeeping operations, including the issue of mission performance. Mission personnel must be provided with adequate resources, equipment and training, he said, adding that they must undergo extensive training to address sexual exploitation and abuse and improve performance. Outlining Brazil’s long history of contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations, he cited the success of MINUSTAH in establishing a safer and more secure environment on the ground. That was facilitated by a focus on effectiveness at all stages, from troop selection and training to the provision of equipment and logistical support, he said. Building the trust of local communities is also crucial, he added, spotlighting the importance of political dialogue and economic development as necessary conditions for peacebuilding. The protection of civilians “does not equate with blanket mandates on the use of force”, he said. Rather, politics and people-centred approaches must be top priorities.
MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), expressing pride in his country’s value‑driven contribution to United Nations peacekeeping operations, said that while a plethora of policies and standards are available across the system, there is no cohesive and transparent narrative on performance. Unless a holistic approach is taken on performance, it can be convenient to shift the onus for failure onto those operating on the front lines in precarious circumstances, he warned, adding that the Secretariat must convey to the Council “what it needs to hear and not what it deems appropriate for the Council to hear”. It can be quite frustrating for personnel on the front lines to see their requirements getting short shrift during negotiations in legislative bodies including the Council, he said, adding that Bangladesh has taken proactive measures to invest in critical enablers that are essential for the protection of civilians and the safety of peacekeepers.
ELBIO OSCAR ROSSELLI FRIERI (Uruguay) said all stakeholders must shoulder the responsibility of peacekeeping reform, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that troops and police are fully trained before deployment. Stressing the importance of protecting civilians, he also highlighted the need for increasing participation by women at all levels or peacekeeping as crucial to improving operational effectiveness. Uruguay now has 96 female personnel, about 7 per cent of all its troops, he said, adding that the country is working to improve that figure. Applauding the Herculean efforts undertaken by the Secretary-General and his team to combat sexual exploitation, he said host countries have a special responsibility to implement status-of-forces agreements.
MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium) noted that the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations has reached consensus on crucial subjects such as performance, and emphasized that, while most of those serving under the blue flag did so honourably and respectfully, the few who did not must be held accountable. National prosecution practices must lead to results, he said, noting that Belgium has already signed the Declaration of Shared Commitments. Encouraging others to do so, he said the document prioritizes the protection of civilians. Calling for the observations contained in strategic reviews to be made available to the Council and troop‑contributing countries, he also called for realistic thinking, asking: “What is the point of adopting a mandate if the human, logistical and financial means do not follow suit?”
MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), emphasizing that peacekeeping is the most successful enterprise of the United Nations, noted the presence of Pakistani peacekeepers deployed in the recent missions in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. Welcoming the focus on performance, she said the Council must base its decisions on practical analysis of resource requirements by the Secretariat. “Mandates must be precise, unambiguous and appropriately resourced,” she stressed, adding that it was also necessary to rationalize and prioritize mandated tasks. Calling for transparency, especially between troop-contributing countries and the Secretariat, she said national caveats hinder performance by giving one troop-contributing country leverage to refuse to perform in a given instance and creating a disproportionate set of expectations. A level playing field is a prerequisite for fair assessment of performance, she said.
ION JINGA (Romania), associating himself with the statement by the European Union, stressed that efforts needed to focus on mobilizing greater support in order to develop high standards, impose real accountability, and have well-equipped and trained forces in the field. Despite the Member States’ efforts to provide personnel, equipment and financial support, peacekeeping still faces several difficulties which undermine its ability to deliver on its mandates. Expressing his support for the policy of zero-tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse, he also underscored his full commitment to the Secretary-General’s strategy to prevent and end this type of conduct of United Nations personnel. Romania has also been a consistent contributor to peacekeeping operations since 1991, he noted, and he encouraged the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support to continue exploring potential new models of cooperation in training development and delivery.
SATYENDRA PRASAD (Fiji) said his country has contributed more than 30,000 personnel to United Nations peacekeeping operations over 40 years, and welcomed the questions raised today about costly missions with lengthy mandates. Today’s conflicts are complex and no two are the same, he said, cautioning that they risk “internationalizing” at a lightning pace. The United Nations, and the Security Council in particular, remain uniquely placed to resolve conflicts, build and sustain peace, but “peacekeeping must evolve” as conflicts become more complex, less local and more global. “When peacekeepers fall short of the high standards expected of them, they fail both people and communities,” he said, adding that they weaken a mission’s overall chances for success. Measured expectations are needed, with a focus on using peacekeeping missions to create the spaces needed for politics to work. Indeed, peacekeeping is about “soft skills”, including the ability to understand cultures and values, and to facilitate dialogue. Emphasizing that political processes take time, he said peacekeeping mandates should therefore be realistic and focus on delivering the highest standards. They should also be provided with the right tools, knowledge and financing, he added.