Ensuring the safety and proper resourcing of United Nations ‘Blue Helmets’ is key to the successful implementation of peacekeeping mandates, delegates said today, while also underscoring that civilian protection must remain a core focus during mission drawdowns and transitions, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued its general debate.
Citing the situation in Darfur — where the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) is now operating, following the departure of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) — the representative of Norway spotlighted the need to remain vigilant to the risks to civilians when a multidimensional peacekeeping mission closes.
On that point, the representative of Sudan said that the transition from UNAMID to its successor mission, UNITAMS, will continue to require the cooperation of the United Nations and international community, along with adequate resourcing. He further stressed that United Nations peace operations must always be conducted in line with the principles of impartiality and respect for State sovereignty, and that violations related to the conduct of peacekeepers must be addressed through accountability and removal measures, in order to preserve the reputation of missions.
Noting that the question of resources remains fundamental to the operational efficiency and effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, many delegates urged the international community to ensure uninterrupted funding to the United Nations deployed missions.
“We cannot expect peacekeepers to do more with less resources,” stressed the representative of Indonesia, noting the importance of supporting peacekeeping missions with resources, training and capacity-building. He also called for a swift investigation of attacks against peacekeepers — which have increased amid an increasingly complex global security landscape — in order to bring perpetrators to justice.
Women’s participation in peacekeeping was also spotlighted, with many speakers emphasizing that female troops enhance the effectiveness of field operations and help missions achieve better results. Several delegates outlined their countries’ efforts to improve gender parity among their deployed ranks.
In that vein, the representative of Gambia said the increased presence of women peacekeepers produces positive outcomes for women and girls affected by conflict. Gambia recently revised its national peacekeeping policy by setting targets drawn from the United Nations Uniform Gender Parity Strategy and has contributed military and staff officers to United Nations peacekeeping with 40 per cent women’s representation.
Among other topics raised today were the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the question of Western Sahara and the peaceful use of outer space, as well as efforts to rid the world of landmines and other explosive devices used in war.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Brunei Darussalam, Sierra Leone, Eswatini, Singapore, Iran, Thailand, Ukraine, Namibia, New Zealand, Botswana, Mongolia, Malaysia, Mali, Haiti, and Uruguay.
The representatives of Israel, the United Kingdom, Iran and Argentina spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 1 November, to continue its general debate.
SONG KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, turned first to outer space affairs, describing the United States engineering of a Security Council resolution against his country’s satellite launch as a hostile act that violated the right of a sovereign State. The same country obstructs the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from engaging in international cooperation in the field. Despite such double standards, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is steadfast in its aspiration to become an advanced spacefaring nation, supporting the “Space 2030 agenda”, which it plans to implement soon. On the question of Palestine, he attributed the failure to resolve the issue to the “unfair and biased policy of the United States, which fully backs Israel”. Regarding peacekeeping operations, he said they must be deployed by the Security Council only with the host country’s consent. Further, such operations must be periodically reviewed and “boldly” terminated if they do not contribute to peace or last longer than necessary. He went on to call for the dismantling of the United Nations Command in Korea, established by the United States in 1950, stressing that any mention of that entity implying an association with the United Nations in the Organization’s publications must be corrected.
ISATOU BADJIE (Gambia), associating herself with the Non-Alignment Movement, said peacekeeping operations bring hope and protection to the most vulnerable, even as they operate amid financial bottlenecks. Meanwhile, the increased presence of women peacekeepers produces positive outcomes for women and girls affected by conflicts. To that end, Gambia revised its national peacekeeping policy by setting targets drawn from the United Nations Uniform Gender Parity Strategy and has contributed military and staff officers with 40 per cent women’s representation. Advocating for close cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, she said that partnership holds great promise to enhance prevention and responses to emergency situations on the ground. On the question of Western Sahara, she recognized efforts undertaken by Morocco to resolve the dispute, noting that Gambia established a general consulate in Dakhla in January 2020. Encouraging the resumption of dialogue towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict, she reaffirmed her country’s full support to the legitimate sovereignty rights of Morocco over its territories.
NOORHAZEERAH HAJI ARIFFIN (Brunei Darussalam), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said health, economic and social challenges in the Occupied Palestinian Territory have been exacerbated by repeated acts of violence and aggression carried out by the occupying Power. Calling on the latter to facilitate access to medical treatment for Palestinians — including those related to deteriorating conditions caused by escalating hostilities and the COVID-19 pandemic — she expressed concern over the illegal expansion of settlements, as well as demolitions and seizures of Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank. The international community must remain resolute in its commitment to safeguard a two-State solution and achieve an independent State of Palestine based on pre-1967 borders. Underscoring the importance of the work of the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) - which continues to provide health care, education and distribute food to millions of Palestinian refugees - she stressed the need to ensure the Agency is supported with adequate resources.
VICTORIA MANGAY SULIMANI (Sierra Leone), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, called for redoubled efforts as the first year of the Fourth International Decade on the Eradication of Colonialism (2021-2030) comes to a close. Each Non-Self-Governing territory should be handled on a case-by-case basis, as prescribed by the relevant resolutions, and closer collaboration with the administering Powers in order to support the health, economic, educational and other development needs of their respective Territories. On the question of Western Sahara, she reiterated her country’s unwavering support for the ongoing and exclusive United Nations political process, while welcoming the nomination of Staffan De Mistura as the Secretary-General’s new personal envoy and expressing hope for the third roundtable of concerned parties. Reiterating Sierra Leone’s support for the Moroccan autonomy initiative — which is realistic and promotes compromise for a lasting solution — she turned to the Palestinian question, voicing support for a two-State solution and commending UNWRA’s work.
MOHAMED IBRAHIM MOHAMED ELBAHI (Sudan), associating himself with the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized that United Nations peace operations must be conducted with impartiality and respect for State sovereignty. Furthermore, conduct violations must be addressed through accountability and removal measures in order to preserve the reputation of missions. Turning to operations his country hosts, he said the liquidation of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) is evidence that the situation in Darfur has changed. As such, sanctions against Sudan should be terminated, as the reason for their imposition no longer exists. Expressing various concerns about the other operation in Sudan, the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), he went on to underline the important role of special political missions, including their partnerships with regional organizations and respect for national ownership. In Sudan, the transition from UNAMID to its successor, the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in the Sudan (UNITAMS) will require the cooperation of the United Nations and the international community, along with adequate resourcing, he said.
MDUDUZI KIETH KENNETH MBINGO (Eswatini) reiterated support for a political solution, based on compromise, to the regional dispute over the Western Sahara, and described Morocco’s proposed autonomy initiative as the only serious and credible political solution to the dispute. Welcoming Morocco’s commitment to relaunching the political process and to the ceasefire, which continues to hold, he said the holding of the two Geneva roundtables on the matter was a positive step. Achieving a political solution to that long-standing dispute will not only enhance cooperation between members of the Maghreb Arab Union but will also contribute to stability and security in the Sahel region at large. He further applauded the holding of the legislative, regional and communal elections in Western Sahara, citing high voter turnout as an expression of the local population’s commitment to Morocco’s democratic process.
MAJID TAKHT RAVANCHI (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Alignment Movement, stated that outer space is a common heritage that should be explored for peaceful purposes, with full respect for the principle of non-ownership. On the effects of atomic radiation, he welcomed the advice of the scientific committee to the General Assembly to the effect that observer countries, including Iran, compared favourably against membership criteria and indicators. Turning to the question of Palestine, he reaffirmed the need to support the mandate of the Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, in order to raise awareness about illegal Israeli activities and mobilize international action to end such violations. Reiterating his country’s strong commitment to United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said Iran stands ready to increase its contribution to deployed missions, both logistically and militarily, by providing troops, military observers, police and civilian staff. In that context, he added that the principles of peacekeeping — the consent of the parties, the non-use of force except in self-defence and impartiality — should be respected.
SUPARK PRONGTHURA (Thailand), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), expressed support for UNRWA, reporting that his country continues to renew its multi-year voluntary pledge to the Agency. In addition, Thailand recently contributed $80,000 to UNRWA’s flash appeal. As for peace operations, he emphasized the need for multi-stakeholder collaboration to ensure that all peacekeepers are equipped with the right mindset, capabilities, knowledge and skills required for their duties, also stressing the importance of ensuring timely and adequate financial, medical and technological resources. The Thai Horizontal Military Engineering Company at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) established a Learning Centre to share with the local community its best practices on agriculture, healthcare, water and land management, rooted in Thailand’s national development approach, the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy. The initiative has also contributed to repairing over 400 kilometres of roads in South Sudan, as well as the construction of COVID-19 screening facilities within the UNMISS compound, he said.
ODD INGE KVALHEIM (Norway) said peacekeeping missions must prioritize the support of political processes, in coordination with Security Council efforts — based on clear proposals from the Secretariat — and alongside neighbouring countries and regional organizations. Civilians must be protected, even when peace operations scale down, he emphasized, noting that the situation in Darfur is a stark reminder of the need to remain vigilant to the risks to civilians, when a multidimensional peacekeeping mission closes. Turning to UNRWA, he said the Agency not only plays a key role in ensuring immediate humanitarian needs are met; it is also an employer, a vehicle for economic activity and a regional stabilizer. Expressing concern over UNRWA’s continuous underfunding and lack of financial predictability, he encouraged Member States to pay their full core contributions early in the year. As for mine action, he cautioned that, after many years of declining mine casualties, the world is now seeing new use of landmines and homemade explosives on a large scale, especially by non-State actors. The urbanization of warfare and the extensive use of explosive weapons in densely populated areas are among the reasons why protection needs have changed and increased, he said, adding that Norway is one of the world's largest contributors to efforts to map and clear landmines, cluster munitions and other explosives.
BERENICE LOW (Singapore), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, observed that the reliance on and advancements in space technology have given rise to new challenges, such as orbital congestion and space debris. It is therefore important that the global community works closely together to strengthen consensus on applicable international norms in outer space. Highlighting Singapore’s engagement in space-related activities, she reported there is a vibrant and growing scientific community that is actively engaged in research, including Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University’s Satellite Research Centre. Turning to peace operations, she expressed support for the “Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) Plus” initiative’s drive to move toward innovative, data-driven and technology-enabled peacekeeping. In that context, she noted that all United Nations peacekeeping missions currently use a Singapore-developed application to create, maintain and submit secure electronic casualty reports, which improves information processing time on an issue of key concern.
SERHII DVORNYK (Ukraine), commending the relentless efforts of the United Nations Mine Action Service, said a drastically increased number of dangerous explosive devices has been a “sad reality for the occupied parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine,” as a result of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation. Noting that his country ranks fifth in the world for mine-caused civilian casualties, he called for the further consolidation of international efforts to strengthen mine action and to intensify pressure on aggressor States to cease the indiscriminate use of explosive devices. On peacekeeping, he said his country remains an active contributor, despite being compelled to defend its independence and territorial integrity from armed aggression. He voiced support for collective efforts to make peacekeeping operations more efficient and contemporary, including by strategically generating critical, high-mobility assets such as aviation units, developing intelligence capacities and reducing missions’ operational footprint on the environment. They should also ensure proper training for personnel, eradicating the scourge of sexual exploitation and abuse, and take active, concerted measures to enhance the safety and security of peacekeepers.
NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed solidarity with the 17 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories wishing to exercise their right to self-determination. The United Nations has invested significantly in the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), he said, which was set up for the primary purpose of facilitating a referendum for self-determination. With the Mission’s current mandate up for renewal this week, deep reflection is needed on how it can yield more meaningful results, especially in an atmosphere of heightened tensions and ongoing armed conflict between the parties. He welcomed the progressive stance taken by the United States in vetoing plans to establish a consulate of the country in Dakhla, which shows commitment to the right to self-determination. Calling for a United Nations visiting mission to Western Sahara, he said such a visit would move the international community from an abstract view to a more realistic perspective of the situation on the ground.
JUSTIN PETER FEPULEAI (New Zealand), focusing on the question of Tokelau, noted that the Territory remains COVID-19-free, with 99 per cent of eligible people over 16 years old fully vaccinated against the virus. Outlining measures taken by his country to enable Tokelau to run its own vaccine rollout programme on each of the three atolls, he described it as a testament to the unique partnership between New Zealand and Tokelau, whereby the latter is supported and empowered to deliver for itself. While Tokelau’s remote geography will continue to afford a good measure of protection, appropriate border measures and ongoing vaccinations will remain in force. Emphasizing that New Zealand continues to work closely with Tokelau to deliver basic goods and services, he highlighted the installation of a cable bringing high-speed Internet access for the first time in Tokelau’s history. Noting that the challenges posed by COVID-19 reinforced New Zealand’s resolve to support Tokelau’s efforts to strengthen well-informed decision-making and self-governance, he stated his country’s commitment to continue providing timely and accurate information on the question of Tokelau.
COLLEN VIXEN KELAPILE (Botswana), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, urged States to recommit to eliminating colonialism in all its forms and manifestations. On the question of Western Sahara, he called on the party that bears primary responsibility in the conflict to de-escalate hostilities and described the African Union’s decision to reactivate its role in the region as a significant step. Turning to the question of Palestine, he echoed calls to investigate the May 2021 escalation of hostilities in Gaza, noting that the ideal path for peace is based on a two-State solution. In that context, he called upon the international community to do more to ensure adequate and predictable resources for UNRWA. He further highlighted the role of the University for Peace and special political missions — “the United Nations international peace and security toolkit” — noting that stronger partnerships between the Organization and regional and subregional groups will improve missions’ mandate implementation.
MOHAMMAD KURNIADI KOBA (Indonesia), associating himself with ASEAN and the Non-Aligned Movement, detailed human rights violations committed against the Palestinian people and said Israel’s unilateral actions move the parties further away from constructive dialogue. Indonesia will continue providing support to UNWRA, which is running low on resources. Noting that peacekeeping missions are an indispensable tool for the United Nations, he said ensuring the good conduct and performance of peacekeepers is critical. “We cannot expect peacekeepers to do more with less resources,” he stressed, underlining the importance of supporting peacekeeping missions with adequate resources, training and capacity-building. Calling for a swift investigation of attacks against peacekeepers, in order to bring perpetrators to justice, he underlined the special role of women in enhancing the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, especially in community engagement.
SYED MOHAMAD HASRIN AIDID (Malaysia), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and ASEAN, said his country will continue to advocate for the prevention of an arms race and placement of weapons of any kind in outer space. Among other initiatives, his country plans to launch a new communication satellite in 2022 and is developing the National Space Industry Strategic Plan to drive the local space industry to become viable and globally competitive. He also underlined the important role of UNRWA and its assistance and protection to 5.8 million Palestine refugees. As a contributor to UNRWA since 1978, he reiterated Malaysia’s strong condemnation of Israel’s flagrant violations, including the continued restriction of movement of UNRWA personnel and goods in the West Bank and Gaza. On peacekeeping, he noted that Malaysian peacekeepers are serving in four United Nations missions and emphasized the country’s commitment to increasing the number of women peacekeepers, noting that Malaysia recently deployed 85 female personnel — its largest number of women peacekeepers — to serve in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
ENKHBOLD VORSHILOV (Mongolia), reiterating the important role of United Nations peacekeeping during the COVID-19 pandemic, expressed support for the policy of making extensive use of modern technology in peacekeeping operations. Noting his country’s contributions to the implementation of peacekeeping reforms — in particular its training of military personnel — he emphasized that it pursues a policy aimed at increasing the percentage of women peacekeepers to 15 per cent, with a plan to host an upcoming international conference on that issue. Mongolia has participated in over 13 United Nations peacekeeping missions, deploying around 20,000 troops, and intends to further increase its participation. Reiterating the importance of training, as well as the provision of high-quality modern equipment, including timely reimbursement for troop- and police-contributing nations, he also urged States to contribute their share in a timely manner.
MOHAMED TRAORE (Mali), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, spoke on the topic of United Nations peace operations, noting that his country is both a troop-contributing country and the host of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Emphasizing that the success of peace operations is a collective but differentiated responsibility among many actors, he underscored the importance of follow-up activities coordinated by MINUSMA and cited his Government’s ongoing efforts to draft an integration strategy. It is essential to adapt MINUSMA’s position to the situation on the ground, which is hostile and often sees asymmetric attacks. As such, the Mission must be provided with the resources necessary to carry out its mandate. However, Mali’s long-term security and stability will ultimately be up to the national security forces, he said, reporting that Mali is working to strengthen its capacities on that front.
CHRISTOPHER PIERRE (Haiti) said that peace operations facilitate political processes, protect civilians, help disarmament efforts and promote human rights. Describing the existence of Non-Self-Governing Territories as an “insult” to humanity, he went on to voice support to the proposed initiative on compensation to the victims of slavery, stressing that while “we cannot erase history, we can together create a better future”. Turning to special political missions, he said they contribute to preventing conflict, establishing peace and promoting inclusive dialogue, as well as democracy, pointing to the recent extension of the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH). Haiti has been impacted by numerous political crises and natural hazards in recent years, he said, spotlighting the population’s resilience. The victims of a multidimensional crisis, such as the one in Haiti, are often the most vulnerable, he said, calling on the international community to work closely with the Haitian people to establish a climate of peace, advance Constitutional reforms and organize elections, thus consolidating democratic gains.
MARÍA NOEL BERETTA (Uruguay) emphasized the need to grant the people of the world’s 17 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories their right to self-determination. She underlined her country’s support for the legitimate sovereign right of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands*, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, which has a historical and legal basis. The only solution to the dispute with the United Kingdom is bilateral negotiation between the parties. Turning to United Nations peacekeeping operations, she said Uruguay is one of the top 20 troop- and police-contributing countries, as well as the second-largest contributor per capita. Its focus in those efforts is on the protection of children and civilians, as well as the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda, she said.
Right of Reply
The representative of Israel, responding to the statement delivered by the representative of Iran, said the latter remains the main State sponsor of terrorism across the globe, as the world has witnessed in Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other countries. She went on to suggest that Tehran divert its contributions to terror groups and put them toward promoting peace. Furthermore, Iran’s violations of its nuclear obligations are extensive, she said, stressing that it is not meeting its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguard commitments and continues to cause chaos and threaten the region. Emphasizing that the face of the Middle East is changing, she said Israel offers an outstretched arm for peace. She went on to express shock that the representative from Democratic People’s Republic of Korea used the language of human rights to criticize Israel, given that Pyongyang itself blocks the delivery of international humanitarian aid to its own people.
The representative of the United Kingdom, responding to several delegations’ statements, said his country has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Chagos Archipelago and has a long-standing commitment to cede sovereignty over those islands to Mauritius, when they are no longer needed for defence purposes. The United Kingdom was disappointed that the matter was referred to the International Court of Justice, as it is a bilateral issue. While his Government cooperated with the Court, it does not share the Court’s approach. The United Kingdom also has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) or the principle of self-determination, he said, noting that the 2013 referendum held on the Islands sent a clear message that the people there do not want a dialogue about sovereignty. Argentina should respect those wishes, he added.
The representative of Iran said the allegations made by the representative of Israel are baseless, unfounded and intended to conceal Israel’s own crimes and brutality against the Palestinian people. Israel cannot cover up the criminal nature of its activities, which are expansionist and warmongering, he said, adding that it continues to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to accelerate its annexation efforts. Furthermore, Israel’s violations of weapons agreements hamper the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East and poses the most serious security threat to the global non-proliferation regime, he said.
The representative of Argentina, responding to the United Kingdom and referring to arguments his delegation made regarding the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia Islands and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, emphasized that those remain an integral part of Argentina. Adding that the islands are the subject of a sovereignty dispute recognized by the United Nations, he said the General Assembly has adopted 10 resolutions in favour of Argentina on the matter. Argentina and the United Kingdom must renew negotiations to find a peaceful and lasting resolution, he said, adding that the referendum cited by the United Kingdom had no legal value, ran counter to international law and had no impact on the legitimate rights of Argentina.
* A dispute exists between the Governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).