Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council at the open debate on “United Nations operations: peacekeeping training and capacity-building”, in New York today:
Thank you for convening this important debate on peacekeeping training and capacity-building. It reflects Indonesia’s strong engagement in peacekeeping — here in New York, as well as in the field.
I salute the more than 3,000 uniformed personnel from Indonesia that currently serve in eight of our operations, and I pay tribute to the 37 Indonesian peacekeepers who have made the ultimate sacrifice under the United Nations flag.
Improving training is a major shared commitment of the Action for Peacekeeping initiative. Training saves lives.
Our peacekeepers are deployed to increasingly complex and often hostile environments. Training prepares them for their vital peacekeeping tasks and improves their performance. And as we know, improved performance reduces fatalities.
As such, training is a necessary and strategic investment in peacekeeping — and is a shared responsibility between Member States and the Secretariat.
A system of collaboration was recognized in 1995. The General Assembly confirmed Member State responsibility for predeployment training of uniformed personnel, while the Secretariat assists Member States by establishing training standards and providing training materials. The Secretariat is also responsible for training civilian personnel.
We need to build on this approach of shared responsibility and deepen our collaboration. I thank the 151 Member States and 4 international and regional organizations that have supported the Action for Peacekeeping initiative by endorsing the Declaration of Shared Commitments.
In doing so, you have reconfirmed the shared responsibility for peacekeeping performance and stated your commitment to providing well-trained uniformed personnel.
Today, I would like to update you on the Secretariat’s progress in fulfilling our commitment to training and capacity‑building. On safety and security, we continue to take forward the Action Plan to improve the security of United Nations peacekeepers. This is supported by the roll-out of a comprehensive training plan.
In the five high-risk missions — MONUSCO, UNAMID, UNMISS, MINUSCA and MINUSMA — we have conducted training support and assessment visits. We are also instituting casualty evacuation training, stress testing and crisis management exercises in these five missions. Strengthening medical training is another key component.
And, to help address the threat of improvised explosive devices and other dangers, we are working with troop and police-contributing countries to ensure that units joining our missions meet our operational readiness standards before deployment, and that they have undergone predeployment training in accordance with United Nations standards.
We are also placing a renewed emphasis on in-mission training to ensure that our peacekeepers benefit from the necessary support in the field.
We are particularly keen to develop the use of mobile training teams, and we are encouraging Member States to send such teams to provide targeted, flexible support to our missions.
We have established a framework of performance standards and assessments based on continuous evaluations of military units, including command and control, protection of civilians, and conduct and discipline.
And we have strengthened peacekeeping leadership training for civilians, military and police, including through scenario-based exercises.
We are also working to increase the number of women in our peacekeeping operations. A talent pipeline specifically for senior women military officers is under development, and we are looking at how we can make mission environments more conducive to women.
To enhance these efforts, your continued support will be essential, through the provision of training programmes, of mobile training teams, of the translation of training material into the six official United Nations languages, and of funding. One of our key priorities is strengthening conduct and discipline.
We are encouraged that the number of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping appears to be decreasing. But, we are also mindful that we must be vigilant in our prevention efforts and seek accountability whenever the zero-tolerance policy has been violated. We must continue to do so in strong partnership with Member States.
Conduct and discipline issues are an essential component of predeployment and in-mission induction training, which is mandatory for all civilian, military and police peacekeeping personnel.
The United Nations Secretariat is helping troop- and police-contributing countries to improve their predeployment training on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse by making core training materials available and deploying mobile training teams to troop- and police-contributing countries in response to requests from those countries.
I am pleased that our collective commitment to better train and equip peacekeepers has led to a number of effective triangular partnerships among the Secretariat, Member States that have expertise and resources, and Member States that deploy our uniformed peacekeepers.
We have facilitated and conducted training of 330 uniformed engineers and 2,700 uniformed signals personnel. Many of the trainees, including 23 female officers, have deployed to missions, including the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which we support.
Following the success of engineering training in Kenya, we are launching a field medic assistant course in Uganda this year and will conduct engineering training in Viet Nam and Indonesia in 2020.
We have made notable progress, but much still needs to be done. Training gaps remain in critical areas such as weapons‑handling, first aid, human rights and protection issues.
To ensure the long-term sustainability of triangular and other partnerships and initiatives, I urge Member States to consider increased funding, in-kind contributions of equipment and the provision of trainers.
I must also stress how important it is that we receive far more nominations of women to take part in training. We are grateful to those Member States that have sponsored 50‑50 male‑female officer courses, and we ask more Member States to do so.
Improving performance is at the heart of our collective effort. We look forward to our continued cooperation.