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GA/PK/241
18 February 2021
268th Meeting (AM)

Senegal Calls for Africa to Have ‘Special Place’ in Resolving Continental Crises, as Special Peacekeeping Committee Concludes General Debate

Delegates Condemn Attacks against Peacekeepers, Urge Greater Female Participation

Africa must occupy a special place in managing and settling crises on the continent, Senegal’s representative said today, as the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations concluded its general debate.

He also reiterated the strategic importance of more predictable and flexible financing of the cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations and emphasized the need to strengthen special political missions through appropriate financing, given the importance of finding lasting political solutions to conflicts.

Ethiopia’s representative said that financing allocations remain a persistent challenge, expressing serious concern that some peace operations are executing their mandates with reduced troop numbers.  She stressed the importance of greater cooperation among the United Nations, hosting States and countries contributing troops and police, citing the African Union missions in Somalia and Darfur as examples of the benefits of working closely with regional organizations.

Noting that most missions in Africa are based in francophone countries, the Permanent Observer for the International Organization of La Francophonie emphasized that knowledge of French is crucial to performance since most peace operations are based in francophone countries.  French must be essential for all personnel on the ground, she said.  Peace operations must adapt to the culture of the host country, especially since they are often long-term missions, she added, noting that her Organization has supported United Nations operations for 15 years and was the first of its kind to help enhance the capacities of francophone contributing countries.

The Permanent Observer for the African Union said peacebuilding efforts are crucial in preventing medium- and long-term relapse into conflict, pointing out that conflicts have become more complex, with the last decade witnessing significant changes in battle tactics.  Rapid deployment is therefore crucial to performance, she stressed.

Many speakers paid tribute to the efforts of peacekeepers in the gruelling circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, condemning attacks against United Nations “Blue Helmets”, with Indonesia’s representative stressing the need for swift investigations to bring perpetrators to justice.  Delegates also underlined the need for greater female participation in peace operations, with some reporting on their national efforts in that regard.

Also speaking were representatives of Lebanon, Nepal, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Côte d’Ivoire, Bhutan, El Salvador, Viet Nam, Ecuador, Japan and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Statements

The representative of Lebanon, associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, described peace operations as an effective tool for mitigating regional crises and curbing tensions.  The COVID-19 pandemic has added to their challenges, she said, paying tribute to the “Blue Helmets” who have withstood the pandemic while working for peace.  Noting that the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire is more important than ever in the current context, she applauded efforts to ensure the safety and security of United Nations peacekeepers and condemned all attacks against them.  Even one fatality is one too many, she emphasized.  She went on to underline the need for the United Nations and participating States to ensure greater participation in peace operations by women.  Recalling the 4 August 2020 explosion in Beirut, she said that it took a great toll and commended the United Nations crisis response as invaluable.

The representative of Nepal, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized that peace operations must be enhanced through adequate and predictable funding as well as moral support.  He strongly condemned attacks against peacekeepers, emphasizing the importance of bringing perpetrators to justice.  He went on to note that the ongoing mismatch between mandates and resources hampers peacekeeping efforts and welcomed the ongoing development of a comprehensive assessment system.  Nepal has remained steadfast in the task of peacekeeping since 1958 and is committed to achieving gender parity in the deployment of its forces, he said.

The representative of Senegal, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, paid tribute to the valiant members of peace operations who have lost their lives and condemned the “gruesome record” of attacks against soldiers.  Emphasizing the importance of the safety and security of those deployed in increasingly violent environments, he said the pandemic has further exposed peacekeepers and Member States must assist host States even more in that context.  He went on to stress the need to strengthen special political missions through appropriate financing given the importance of finding lasting political solutions to conflicts.  Furthermore, Africa must occupy a special place in crisis management and settlement, he said, reiterating the strategic importance of more predictable and flexible financing of cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations.  He said that Senegal, a major troop- and police-contributing country, has deployed an additional peacekeeping unit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The representative of El Salvador noted that some States have expanded peacekeeping activities during the pandemic, and the Special Committee must make tangible contributions to their efforts.  She emphasized the importance of stepping up vaccinations for currently deployed peacekeeping personnel without delay.  Noting that her country is currently participating in six peace operations around the world, she stressed that mandates and structures must be clearly defined and provided with adequate financing and resources to be agile and effective.  Underscoring the importance of innovative partnerships to enhance peacekeeping efficiency, she said troop- and police-contributing countries must be reimbursed for their contributions.  She went on to point out that El Salvador has increased the participation of women in its forces to 35 per cent.

The representative of Indonesia, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that his country has contributed 45,000 personnel throughout its long involvement in peacekeeping.  Indonesia currently has 2,800 soldiers and policemen and women serving in eight States worldwide.  Although peacekeepers ensure the safety of others, they are often the target of attacks, he noted, calling for swift investigations to bring perpetrators to justice because peacekeepers are “truly the frontline workers for peace and security”.  Emphasizing the importance of adequate, predictable financing, he said all Member States must fulfil their obligations on time.  He went on to say that his country is working to ensure full and meaningful participation by women and is among the largest contributors of female peacekeepers.  Indonesia is working with Australia on co-deployment for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and also cooperating with Japan, he added.

The representative of Ethiopia, associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said the expectations of peacekeeping troops are taking on new shapes in evolving contexts and mandates.  Partnerships must be solidified to ensure that operations are fit for purpose, calling for enhanced training and cooperation to ensure the safety of peacekeepers operating in the most volatile environments, who unfortunately fall victim in preventable circumstances.  Calling also for greater cooperation among the United Nations, host countries and troop- and police-contributing countries, she cited the African Union missions in Somalia and Darfur as examples of the benefits of working closely with regional groups.  She went on to describe financing allocations as a persistent challenge, noting that some missions continue to execute their mandates with reduced troop numbers, expressing concern that such resource cuts do not consider their mandates.

The representative of Ecuador, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, described peacekeeping as one tangible example of the three pillars of the Organization’s work.  Expressing gratitude for the efforts of Blue Helmets worldwide, he paid tribute to those who have lost their lives in service.  Ecuador notes the Secretariat’s efforts to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and protect peacekeepers in the communities in which they operate, he said.  Applauding the positive impact of women in peacekeeping, he called for their promotion to leadership positions and in local conflict-resolution mechanisms.

The Permanent Observer for the International Organization of La Francophonie, calling for improved cooperation among stakeholders, said that his Organization has supported United Nations operations for 15 years, teaching French to peacekeepers.  It was the first of its kind to help enhance the capacities of francophone contributing countries, she added, emphasizing that knowledge of the language is crucial to performance since most operations are based in francophone countries.  The next Special Committee report must reflect that dimension, both in the Secretariat and on the ground, she said, emphasizing that French must be essential for all personnel on the ground.  Turning to the participation of women, she called for increased targeted training for female personnel.  She went on to stress the essential need for peace operations to adapt to the culture of the host country, especially since they are often long-term missions.

The Permanent Observer for the African Union said the regional body’s cooperation with the United Nations has taken on broader scope, rooted in the principles of complementarity and African ownership because no single State can overcome the challenges of the times.  Reiterating the bloc’s strong support for the primary role of the Special Committee, she said that its practical steps in response to the pandemic include the creation of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention emergency centre, the launch of a continental strategy and mobilization of the public and private sectors.  Emphasizing that peacebuilding efforts are crucial in preventing medium- and long-term relapse into conflict, she noted that conflicts have become more complex, with the last decade witnessing significant changes in battle tactics.  Rapid deployment is therefore crucial to performance, she stressed, adding that the African Union continues to support the participation of women in peacekeeping and the principle of burden-sharing in the defining year of 2021.

For information media. Not an official record.