States Must Boost Joint Efforts to Fill Capability, Personnel Gaps, amid Frequent Attacks against Peacekeepers, Assistant Secretary‑General Tells Security Council
Partnership and resources were key to ensuring that every peacekeeping mission was supported by properly‑trained, well‑equipped and motivated troops and police, a senior peacekeeping official told the Council today as it discussed how best to fill critical capability gaps.
In her briefing, Bintou Keita, the Assistant Secretary‑General for Peacekeeping Operations, praised the Council for helping to fulfil current and future gaps by pledging and preparing new capabilities, and providing direct financial and political support to strategic force generation and training efforts. Further, the Council had demonstrated its commitment to strategic force generation by adopting resolution 2378 (2017), she said, calling on it to continue its leadership role by ensuring that mandates were matched with appropriate resources.
Turning to the role of police‑ and troop‑contributing countries, she asked that they remain flexible and adaptive in the capabilities they provided. Cautioning against one‑off training just before deployment, she said it was necessary to focus on all the aspects, including training, equipment and gender balance.
She reassured the Council that the Secretariat would further enhance its ongoing work in strategic force generation and targeted training support. Regional and subregional organizations, including the African Union and the European Union, could also play an integral role. “We are working closely with these organizations and their Member States to ensure that United Nations peacekeeping standards were understood and adhered to,” she said.
In the ensuing debate, the Council heard from the delegates of police‑ and troop‑contributing countries, including the representative of Ethiopia who recognized the important steps the Secretariat had already taken to improve the capability and force generation system, including the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System. Underscoring the need for greater consultation, he pointed out that those processes should also encourage regional capabilities.
The world was not getting safer, Ukraine’s delegate pointed out, also speaking from the perspective of an active police‑ and troop‑contributing country. It was important to provide the Council with detailed and frank reports from the field and not simply what the Council Members might wish to hear. Such reports should also be shared with the relevant police‑ and troop -contributing countries, and missions should be provided with clear, coherent, achievable mandates, he stressed.
The representative of the United States asserted that force generation and capability gaps were challenges where concrete progress was possible and measurable. The Organization must know where the greatest needs were so that countries like hers, the largest contributor to peacekeeping, could best target efforts. Calling for more effective performance‑based decision making, she said that would ensure the best matching of capabilities and mission requirements.
“We need more speed and more effectiveness,” France’s delegate stressed, noting that innovation was the best way to respond to that challenge. The force generation of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was historic, she said, highlighting the case of the force generation for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) as a great model for others to have their needs better met. At the same time, it was important to ensure that female personnel had their place in peacekeeping operations.
The representatives of Senegal, China, Sweden, Bolivia, Uruguay, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, Italy and Japan also spoke today.
The meeting started at 3:54 p.m. and ended at 5:48 p.m.
BINTOU KEITA, Assistant Secretary‑General for Peacekeeping Operations, said the adoption of resolution 2378 (2017) had clearly demonstrated the Council’s strong commitment to strategic force generation as a core element of reform. The international community must continue to strive to ensure a diverse mix of contributors that provided the right capabilities, she said, adding that regional and subregional organizations, including the African Union and the European Union, could play an integral role in filling gaps, especially during mission start‑up and surge. “We are working closely with these organizations and their member States to ensure that United Nations peacekeeping standards were understood and adhered to,” she said.
She said the Council was playing an integral role in defining and helping to fulfil current and future capability gaps in missions, including by hosting high‑level meetings, pledging and preparing new capabilities, offering capacity‑building support and providing direct financial and political contributions to strategic force generation and training efforts. That momentum had continued at the Vancouver Defence Ministerial summit in November, where 49 new pledge announcements had been made, as well as more than 20 new training and capacity‑building commitments. To adapt to the evolving operational realities and address the versatility of threats, missions required different capabilities at different periods in their lifecycle, she noted.
Troop‑ and police‑contributing countries must remain flexible, she said. They must also be adaptive in the capabilities they provided and the time for which they provided them. The generation of capabilities for peacekeeping could not focus solely on the type of equipment or number of personnel being sought. Rather, it was necessary to focus on all the aspects, including agility, training, equipment, technology, doctrine, leadership, discipline, interoperability, welfare and mindset and gender balance. Critical training such as e‑learning programmes on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse should be further supported by Member States and included as part of mandatory pre‑deployment training for all uniformed personnel. Member States should continue to invest in more sustained training initiatives, as well as better equipment to maintain United Nations standards and adapt to new operating environments. One‑off training just before deployment and the provision of equipment for one unit would not deliver self‑sufficient capacities, she cautioned.
She said ensuring that every United Nations peacekeeping mission was supported by properly‑trained, equipped, led and motivated troops and police, rotation after rotation was a significant challenge requiring more partnership and resources. The Secretariat would further enhance its ongoing work in strategic force generation and targeted training support. To that end, a coordination mechanism would be established to bring together Secretariat entities involved in training, capacity‑building and force generation. Another proposed mechanism was a pooled multi‑donor grant as part of the existing Department of Peacekeeping Operations Trust Fund to augment existing resources to coordinate and deliver additional targeted and sustained training support to allow additional flexibility to respond quickly to emerging concerns.
Despite the substantial progress that had been made, inevitable limitations and some capability gaps remained, she said. The international community must continue to enhance its collective efforts and be creative to fill some of the most pressing gaps. That would include troop‑ and police‑contributing countries themselves investing in more training and better equipment. Council members also had a strong leadership role to play in ensuring that mandates were matched with appropriate resources and by continuing to support the Secretariat.
FODÉ SECK (Senegal) emphasized the importance of the Council’s Working Group on Peacekeeping. Especially with regard to multidimensional operations, including hybrid missions, it was important to welcome innovations in order to create effective preparation systems. In terms of partnerships with regional organizations, particularly in African countries, innovations helped to improve understanding about Member State capacities and ensure more rapid deployments. The new system was becoming increasingly operational because of commitments undertaken by police- and troop-contributing countries at recent ministerial meetings. Those commitments had shown their political will to implement the innovative vision. However, despite commitments and pledges, it was still proving difficult to find the appropriate level of troops for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). It was not easy to bring together the required capacities for medical support, air and road transport and other units. To bridge such gaps, pooling national and regional efforts was an option, he said, noting that the Vancouver summit had aimed at enshrining such efforts in the form of “smart pledges”.
ANNE GUEGUEN (France) applauded the Secretariat’s efforts involving innovative solutions because gaps had become increasingly evident in peacekeeping capacities. “We need more speed and more effectiveness,” she said, noting that innovation was the best response. The force generation of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was historic and efforts must continue. The case of the force generation for MINUSMA was a great model for others to have their needs better met. She also hailed joint efforts by several States to generate critical capacity, in particular highlighting efforts at the Vancouver summit. She also expressed support to giving a growing place to female personnel in peacekeeping operations. France had helped to train forces and was working with many troop-contributing countries to encourage and increase francophone peacekeeping capacity. In that context, France and its partners had established “En Avant”, a learning method for troops. In order to respond to the challenges of high-performing peacekeeping, the Secretariat and Member States must continue to mobilize, which was a joint Member State responsibility.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said that force generation and capability gaps were challenges where concrete progress was possible and measurable. Emphasizing her country’s commitment to addressing critical gaps, she said the United States was the largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping. Missions needed resources to fulfil their mandates and training and capacity-building could improve performance. Even the most well-designed mission would fall short of its mandate if its peacekeepers were not proficient in basic soldiering. Calling for more effective decision making at different stages, including deployment and addressing capability gaps, she said the United Nations must know where the greatest needs were so that countries like the United States could best target efforts. Performance-based decision making could allow the best matching of capabilities and mission requirements.
LIE CHENG (China), noting that peacekeeping forces were responsible for implementing the Council’s mandates on the ground, the international community should pay greater attention to troop-contributing countries and strengthen capacity-building support so operations had the necessary pre-deployment training. The international community should also enhance the peacekeeping capacity of developing countries through bilateral and multilateral cooperation and support the important role of the African Union and other regional subregional organizations. As manager of peacekeeping operations, the Secretariat should provide efficient and high-quality support so that operations could address complicated situations. China remained committed to enhancing pre-deployment training for its forces and would actively support other police- and troop‑contributing countries.
IRINA SCHOULGIN NYONI (Sweden) said planning, pledges, performance and partnerships would improve force generation and mitigate capacity gaps, as well as integrate into peacekeeping operations gender perspectives and civilian protection. All police- and troop-contributing countries must live up to their commitments to train and equip units to deliver on mandates, be present in required areas of responsibility and minimize the risks of casualties. Strongly supporting the Secretary-General’s reform plans for the peace and security architecture, he lauded particularly the enhanced focus on prevention and forging a stronger link between political strategies and operations. There was a need to better integrate gender perspectives and civilian protection into operations and mandates to ensure that missions were deployed with appropriate staffing and competence. Also of utmost importance was preventing sexual exploitation and abuse, investigating incidents and holding accountable those responsible.
Mr. WOLDEMICHAEL (Ethiopia) noted that securing sufficient personnel for operations and ensuring adequate deployment capabilities were key challenges. He expressed full support to the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report, recognizing the important steps the Secretariat had already taken to improve the capability and force-generation system. As such, the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System was a case in point. The High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations had pointed out that achieving progress on the issue needed Member States’ support and therefore, greater consultation was imperative to help them to make informed decisions. While continuing to increase the number and quality of pledges was significant, it was also critical to determine whether pledges and commitments made thus far had been fulfilled, including those made at the Vancouver summit. Moreover, the United Nations force generation processes should also encourage regional capabilities.
PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) said the international scene was not static and peacekeeping operations must undergo structural changes so they could adapt and fend off pressing threats. Providing operations with appropriate resources to do so called for technical, logistical and political analysis. It was also necessary to improve material and technological factors and provide the right equipment and training. In that context, troop-contributing countries were responsible, as was the Organization in general. Constant attacks on missions were a repeated issue, which demonstrated a need to address mobility and the capacity of units to react and defend civilians and themselves. As such, modalities to provide sustained and predictable funding to such missions must be considered. Also, no peacekeeping operation could be successful without the host country’s support and fluid cooperation was essential in that regard. Above all, it was essential to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States.
ELBIO OSCAR ROSSELLI FRIERI (Uruguay), recalling the high-level open debate on peacekeeping in September, said it was crucial to continue to fill existing gaps in force capacity generation so operations could respond appropriately to the challenges. Full implementation of mandates could not be achieved if operations lacked the capacity they needed. At the design and planning stage, it was key that the Council identified the required needs and capacities of each mission. Planning must be based on clear, attainable objectives and an exit strategy must include a smooth transition to a successor body when those objectives had been achieved. Stressing the importance of triangular cooperation, she said decision making must fully consider the opinions of the police- and troop-contributing countries.
YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said it was evident that the world was not getting safer. Proper force generation was crucial to ensure that operations were capable of delivering on their mandates. While operations had become better adapted to the execution of mandated tasks, there was still room for improving capabilities to fully discharge their mandates. As an active troop- and police-contributing country, Ukraine welcomed efforts towards improving the dialogue among police- and troop-contributing countries, the Council and the Secretariat, as well as with host nations. Missions should be provided with clear, coherent, achievable, sequenced, and at the same time, resilient mandates. It was also important to provide the Council with detailed and frank reports from the field and not simply updates on what the Council members might wish to hear. Such reports should also be shared with the relevant police- and troop-contributing countries in a timely manner.
Mr. DOVGANYUK (Kazakhstan) said the asymmetric and violent threats faced by current peacekeeping operations required a systematized plan to reduce high risks and fatalities by adapting existing approaches or creating new ones. A comprehensive annual review of peacekeeping reform should be undertaken, as recommended by resolution 2378 (2017). Requirements should be tightened and standards should be raised for selecting and training peacekeeping military and police troops. Best practices in individual operations should be disseminated in a timely manner through the central apparatus of the United Nations in other missions. Those should be considered during the preparation of peacekeepers for the fulfilment of their tasks on United Nations missions.
IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD (Egypt) said it was high time that peacekeeping reform and review efforts materialized on the ground in a tangible manner. Force generation for operations was directly linked to operationalizing the tripartite mechanism among the Council, troop-contributing countries and the Secretariat. That mechanism helped to achieve a comprehensive and clear vision for issuing and reviewing mandates in accordance with the Organization’s capabilities and capacities while considering the political reality and situation on the ground according to the conflict’s context, especially in terms of issuing sequenced mandating. Such steps guaranteed effectiveness, avoiding ongoing mission extensions without a determined exit timeframe. It also enabled the Council to better make decisions on extending, reviewing and amending mandates in a realistic way. Recent frequent attacks against missions had demonstrated a need for further capacity development in terms of risk assessment and equipment. In order to fill such gaps, Egypt had pledged to provide, among other things, the necessary equipment, including 100 armoured vehicles.
PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said the ultimate goal of the peace and security reform process was to increase the effectiveness of peacekeeping and ensure that the Blue Helmets were adequately equipped. Unfortunately, Council members had not had sufficient time to study the Secretary-General’s report, he said, noting that Moscow would be examining it carefully. The role of States providing contingents could not be overstated, and in that regard, it was important to have close triangular cooperation on training between the Secretariat, the Council and troop‑contributing countries. Cooperation with countries developing and participating in such trainings was also critical. He pointed out the issue of language training, acknowledging that 48 per cent of peacekeepers worked in French environments. But, it was important to weigh whether that was a priority issue by consulting with troop-contributing and host countries. In that context, he said issues of principal importance in peacekeeping must be discussed at intergovernmental forums. Despite efforts taken outside the United Nations to staff the mission in Mali, it was not fully staffed. As such, peacekeeping issues must be conducted on the basis of discussions in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.
JONATHAN GUY ALLEN (United Kingdom) said peacekeeping operations played a critical role in reducing and containing conflict. Despite many examples of their effectiveness and the sacrifices peacekeepers had made, persistent gaps had left some missions without the equipment and trained personnel required to fulfil their mandates. When the Security Council last discussed force generation, it had set out several steps, including improved mission performance. It continued to support mandatory e-learning for all troops so that they could respond to sexual exploitation and abuse. The United Kingdom now had 700 personnel in missions, including 380 in South Sudan and 280 in Cyprus. The non-military components of peacekeeping should also be considered. Wider work on management reform had a role to play and crucial civilian posts should not remain unfilled.
INIGO LAMBERTINI (Italy), noting that peacekeeping was an important tool to address challenges, said his country was doing its part as a global security provider. In terms of capability gaps, there was a need for the greater mobility of troops and units for ordinance disposal to removal of anti-personnel mines. Technology was key in order to increase the safety of peacekeepers and training was important to improve capabilities and to ensure that mandates could be delivered on the ground. Peacekeeping operations should be based on stabilization, rule of law, justice and the protection of civilians, in line with the aim of focusing more on prevention. In addition, the participation of women at all levels would contribute to improving the performance of missions.
KORO BESSHO (Japan), Council President for December, speaking in his national capacity, said training and capacity-building were important tools to fill persistent force generation gaps and needed to be well-linked to actual deployments from police- and troop-contributing countries. In that context, successful matchmaking between providers and recipients was essential. In addition to the Secretariat, peacekeeping missions could play a role in ensuring the linkages among training, capacity-building and deployments. At the same time, United Nations reform efforts should result in a more effective working relationship between New York and the missions. Filling existing gaps required a collective effort by Member States, whose contributions and assistance were vital. For its part, Japan would provide enhanced training and capacity-building support in countries spanning from the Asia-Pacific region to Africa.