New York

29 March 2019

Secretary-General's remarks to the Ministerial Meeting on Peacekeeping [bilingual, as delivered] [scroll down for all-English version]

[Watch the video on webtv.un.org]

I thank you all, and particularly the co-hosts of today’s meeting, for your commitment to United Nations peacekeeping.  
 
Across the decades, our peacekeeping operations have helped countries from Liberia and Sierra Leone to Timor Leste and Cambodia in transition from conflict to peace. They protect hundreds of thousands of civilians, support political solutions to conflict and help preserve ceasefires.
 
But as conflicts become more complex and high-risk, our operations must keep pace.  
 
Twenty-seven United Nations peacekeepers were killed by violent acts in 2018. I ask you please to observe a moment of silence for them, and for all who have died in the service of peace. [Pause]
 
Making our missions stronger and safer is one of the key elements of my Action for Peacekeeping initiative, together with refocusing peacekeeping with more realistic expectations, and mobilizing greater support for political solutions.
 
I thank the more than 150 governments that have signed up to the Statement of Shared Commitments.
 
We are already seeing results; last year, there was a significant reduction in the number of peacekeepers killed. Our missions are more agile and more proactive – as we have seen recently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.
 
Thanks in part to your support at previous ministerial meetings in London and Vancouver, the UN now has verified military units on standby that can be deployed in less than 60 days – for the first time ever.
 
But we still lack some critical capabilities. As the Declaration of Shared Commitments makes clear, we must bridge these gaps together.
 
In Mali, there is an urgent need for the armored personnel carriers that greatly improve chances of surviving an attack. More than 119 peacekeepers have been killed and 397 injured in Mali since MINUSMA was established in 2013.
 
In the Central African Republic and many other missions, we need helicopters that can operate 24/7 for medical and casualty evacuations from remote areas.
 
Elsewhere, we need Armed Utility Helicopters; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance units; Quick Reaction Forces, and Air Medical Evacuation Teams. 

I urge you to consider contributing these high-value and critical capabilities; and I assure you they will be utilized effectively and efficiently, in accordance with our command and control policy.
 
I hope you will also consider innovative solutions like triangular partnerships and joint contingents, in which one group of governments provides equipment and training, and another provides troops and police.
 
Training is essential to address our peacekeeping challenges in relation to safety and security, the protection of civilians and the overall performance of our personnel. Quality training requires sustained investments by all Member States and we count on your continued support. 
 
Beyond better equipment and readiness, we must increase local engagement. Women peacekeepers and civilian staff are essential to improve those efforts.
 
We have almost doubled the number of female staff officers and observers since the Vancouver meeting, and more women are deploying in mixed police and military units. I commend everyone involved, including the Canadian government for launching the Elsie initiative for Women in Peace Operations.
 
But we must do more, because it is unacceptable that in 2019, only 4 percent of our military peacekeepers are women. We will present a strategy to increase the numbers of female uniformed personnel to the Security Council next month, and I urge your support.
 
Malgré le travail accompli par les Nations Unies en partenariat avec les États Membres, des cas d’exploitation et abus sexuels continuent de causer des torts irréparables aux personnes que nous sommes censés protéger. Dès le début de mon mandat, je me suis donné pour priorité de mettre un terme à l’exploitation et abus sexuels.
 
Des agences, des autres activités civiles des Nations Unies mais aussi des opérations de maintien de la paix.
 
Je me félicite du renforcement des partenariats avec les États Membres à travers le Compact Volontaire sur la prévention de l’exploitation et abus sexuels, qui compte aujourd’hui 101 signataires, et du Cercle de Leadership sur la prévention de l’exploitation et abus sexuels dans les opérations des Nations Unies, qui compte maintenant 72 chefs d’État ou de gouvernement en exercice ou anciens.
 
J’ai nommé une Défenseuse des droits des victimes à l’échelle du système, pour travailler en étroite collaboration avec les autorités publiques et la société civile, afin que les droits et la dignité des victimes soient au cœur de notre réponse.
 
Des chiffres récents indiquent que ces mesures commencent à porter leurs fruits, mais il reste encore beaucoup à faire. L’ère du silence et des tabous est révolue et doit faire place à une ère de transparence et de responsabilité.

Je suis pleinement engagé dans la gestion environnementale de nos missions et dans la réduction au minimum des risques pour le personnel, les communautés et leur environnement. 
 
Les réformes apportées à l’architecture de paix et de sécurité des Nations Unies nous permettent d’aborder dans une perspective différente selon les régions certains des conflits les plus complexes où nos soldats de la paix sont déployés. L’appui des États Membres en faveur des solutions politiques est essentiel au succès des opérations de maintien de la paix. Je vous demande instamment d’appuyer sans réserve tous les efforts déployés pour la paix, notamment en République centrafricaine et au Soudan du Sud.
 
Nos réformes en matière de gestion ont établi une plateforme permettant un appui plus efficace et plus efficient à nos missions. La Division de l’appui aux capacités en uniforme constitue désormais un guichet unique pour les pays contributeurs de troupes ou de personnel de police.
 
Et nous avons également amélioré et rationalisé nos réponses en cas de mauvaise conduite. Tous les aspects du droit administratif ont été intégrés afin d’assurer une démarche normalisée à l’échelle de l’Organisation.
 
Toutefois, bien que des progrès aient été accomplis sur plusieurs fronts, certaines de nos missions de maintien de la paix font face à de graves difficultés de trésorerie, exacerbées par les faiblesses structurelles de notre processus budgétaire. J’ai saisi l’Assemblée générale avec de propositions visant à remédier à cette situation et je compte sur votre appui à cet égard.
 
Ce n’est pas acceptable, ce n’est pas juste que ce soient des pays contributeurs de troupes et de police qui soint les pays qui financent l’activité des Nations Unies.
 
Seul un partenariat solide et continu peut nous aider à promouvoir une paix et une protection durables pour ceux que nous servons.
 
Je vous remercie.

****
All-English:

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
 
I thank you all, and particularly the co-hosts of today’s meeting, for your commitment to United Nations peacekeeping.  
 
Across the decades, our peacekeeping operations have helped countries from Liberia and Sierra Leone to Timor Leste and Cambodia transition from conflict to peace. They protect hundreds of thousands of civilians, support political solutions to conflict and help preserve ceasefires.
 
But as conflicts become more complex and high-risk, our operations must keep pace.  
 
Twenty-seven United Nations peacekeepers were killed by violent acts in 2018. Let us observe a moment of silence for them, and for all who have died in the service of peace.
 
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Making our missions stronger and safer is one of the key elements of my Action for Peacekeeping initiative, together with refocusing peacekeeping with more realistic expectations, and mobilizing greater support for political solutions.

I thank the more than 150 governments that have signed up to the Statement of Shared Commitments.

We are already seeing results; last year, there was a significant reduction in the number of peacekeepers killed. Our missions are more agile and more proactive – as we have seen recently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

Thanks in part to your support at previous ministerial meetings in London and Vancouver, the UN now has verified military units on standby that can be deployed in less than 60 days – for the first time ever.

But we still lack some critical capabilities. As the Declaration of Shared Commitments makes clear, we must bridge these gaps together.
 
In Mali, there is an urgent need for the armored personnel carriers that greatly improve chances of surviving an attack. More than 119 peacekeepers have been killed and 397 injured in Mali since MINUSMA was established in 2013.

In the Central African Republic and many other missions, we need helicopters that can operate 24/7 for medical and casualty evacuations from remote areas.

Elsewhere, we need Armed Utility Helicopters; Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance units; Quick Reaction Forces, and Air Medical Evacuation Teams. 

I urge you to consider contributing these high-value and critical capabilities; and I assure you they will be utilized effectively and efficiently, in accordance with our command and control policy.
 
I hope you will also consider innovative solutions like triangular partnerships and joint contingents, in which one group of governments provides equipment and training, and another provides troops and police.

Training is essential to address our peacekeeping challenges in relation to safety and security, the protection of civilians and the overall performance of our personnel. Quality training requires sustained investments by all Member States and we count on your continued support. 
 
Beyond better equipment and readiness, we must increase local engagement. Women peacekeepers and civilian staff are essential to improve these efforts.
 
We have almost doubled the number of female staff officers and observers since the Vancouver meeting, and more women are deploying in mixed police and military units. I commend everyone involved, including the Canadian government for launching the Elsie initiative for Women in Peace Operations.
 
But we must do more, because it is unacceptable that in 2019, only 4 percent of our military peacekeepers are women. We will present a strategy to increase the numbers of female uniformed personnel to the Security Council next month, and I urge your support.
 
(Delivered in French)

Despite work by the United Nations in partnership with Member States, cases of sexual exploitation and abuse continue to cause irreparable damage to the people we are meant to protect. From the outset of my term, ending sexual abuse and exploitation by personnel serving under the UN flag has been a priority.

I welcome the strengthening of partnerships with Member States through the Voluntary Compact on preventing sexual exploitation and abuse with 101 signatories, and the Circle of leadership on the prevention of and response to sexual exploitation and abuse in UN operations with 72 sitting and former heads of state and government.

I have appointed a system-wide Victims’ Rights Advocate to work closely with governments and civil society, so that the rights and dignity of victims are front and centre.

Recent data shows that these measures are starting to show results, , but much more needs to be done. The era of silence and taboos is over and must now give way to an era of transparency and accountability.

I am also fully committed to the environmental management of our missions and to minimizing any risks to personnel, communities and their environments. 
 
The reforms to the United Nations’ peace and security architecture are enabling us to adopt different, regionally-based approaches to some of the most complex conflicts where our peacekeepers are deployed. Member States’ support for political solutions is essential to the success of peacekeeping operations; I urge your strong backing for all efforts towards peace, including those in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
 
Our management reforms have established a platform for more effective and efficient support to our missions. The Uniformed Capabilities Support Division is now a one-stop-shop for troop and police contributing countries. 
 
We have also improved and streamlined our response to misconduct. All aspects of administrative law have been integrated to provide a standardized approach across the organization.

However, while we are making progress on several fronts, we are facing severe cash shortfalls in some of our peacekeeping missions, exacerbated by structural weaknesses in our budgeting process. I made proposals to the General Assembly to rectify this situation, and I count on your support.

It is not acceptable or fair for troop and police contributing countries to be the ones funding the United Nations activities.

Only our continued strong partnership can help us advance lasting peace and protection for those we serve.
 
Thank you.