New York

26 September 2014

Secretary-General's remarks at Summit on UN Peacekeeping

I thank the United States Government and in particular Vice President [Joe] Biden and Ambassador [Samantha] Power for convening this Summit meeting.

Throughout this week, we have heard countless voices sounding the alarm over flaring tensions and violence in different parts of the world.

This Summit is an important occasion to strengthen our resolve to stand up for peace.

The global security landscape is shifting dramatically.   Civil conflicts coupled with terrorism, organized crime and health crises such as Ebola are threatening millions of people.  More often than not, these dangers transcend borders.

United Nations peacekeeping missions are a leading part of the international response to a wide array of threats.

More than 130,000 troops, police and civilian staff are now deployed – that is a UN record.  But even beyond these numbers, peacekeeping is being called on to do more than ever, from security sector reform and disarmament to a range of peacebuilding and stabilization tasks. Let us not forget that peacekeepers are also peacebuilders.

The risks are also growing.  From northern Mali to the Golan Heights, peacekeepers work in environments where they themselves are subject to attack.  I thank the troop contributing countries for their strong commitment to world peace and security.  We are very proud of the many women and men who are working so hard under difficult and often dangerous circumstances.

Without wide-ranging and tangible support from Member States, peacekeeping missions cannot deploy quickly, operate safely and nimbly, or protect civilians across massive spaces and difficult terrain.

That is why I welcome the focus of this meeting on the capabilities that Member States can provide.  Six critical necessities stand out at this time:

First, rapid response, including troops and the ability to get them to the right place at the right time.

Second, greater mobility, above all through helicopters.

Third, strengthened medical support.

Fourth, better protection against improvised explosive devices - IEDs.

Fifth, improved information and analysis, including expertise on organized crime.

Sixth, strong partnerships with regional organizations, particularly in Africa, where many UN peacekeeping operations are deployed alongside African Union and, in some cases, European Union missions.  The recent launch of the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership by the United States and six other countries holds great promise.

Each nation must consider what it can bring to the peacekeeping endeavour.

For some, it has been military and police personnel.  I welcome the announcement two days ago by His Excellency President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico that his country intends to participate in UN peacekeeping missions. As you may know, Mexico has had some constitutional difficulties, therefore they have not been participating. For the first time they are now participating.

Other countries may possess unique expertise, scarce equipment or financial resources.

What our missions need from all of you is sustained political and diplomatic backing.

I recognize that the UN Secretariat must also do its part to continually improve this vital instrument.

It has been fifteen years since the last comprehensive review of United Nations peace operations. The time has come to take stock of the great strides that have been made, the lessons we have learned, and the new contexts in which our missions are deployed. The world is changing and our support to peacekeeping, and indeed all peace operations, must keep pace. 

Increasingly, missions are being deployed where there is no peace to keep, and no peace agreement to defend, where grave abuses are being committed against civilians.  With so much at stake, divisions among the Security Council and wider UN membership can carry a high price.  We must fortify the spirit of collective responsibility that lies at the heart of UN peacekeeping.

We must ask ourselves what we want from peacekeeping, and what it needs to succeed.

To help us find answers, I have decided to appoint a high-level panel to undertake a review of UN peace operations – peacekeeping and political missions.

We also plan to follow up on this Summit by convening a meeting of Military Chiefs of Staff in the months ahead.

I look forward to your contributions to both of these exercises.

International peace operations are an expression of the resolve of the Security Council.  They draw on the input of the whole membership of the United Nations.   They are your missions, and you should do your very best to enable them to succeed for world peace and security. 

Thank you very much for your commitment.