Speakers Call for More Deployment of Women, Efforts to Realize Secretary-General’s Peacekeeping Reform Initiative, as Special Committee Concludes General Debate
Speakers called for more efforts to deploy women in United Nations peace operations worldwide and fully implement the Secretary-General’s strategy to make missions stronger, safer and more effective, as the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations concluded its annual general debate today.
The representative of Jamaica noted several instances where the United Nations has made great strides towards gender parity among the “blue helmets”, including by appointing gender advisers and mainstreaming gender perspectives into the Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ offices — a move which will increase the number of female officers in the Organization’s 13 missions worldwide.
Mexico’s delegate, noting that female officers comprise more than 30 per cent of his country’s deployed personnel, said that women play a vital role in all stages of the peace process. The Special Committee’s set of recommendations for 2020 should focus on the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda. In a similar vein, France’s representative said that women must be given their “proper place” among mission staff, observing that their involvement improves operational effectiveness as women are adept at working with local populations and help to arrive at peaceful solutions.
Delegates also extolled the virtues of the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative, launched in March 2018, which aims to refocus peacekeeping with more targeted mandates, safer operations, better equipped forces and greater support for political solutions.
The representative of the Republic of Korea, which co-chairs of the Group of Friends of United Nations Peace Operations, said that the Special Committee should use the political momentum created by the initiative to translate shared commitments into action. Korean peacekeepers understand that winning the hearts and minds of the local people helps to deliver mandates, he said, stressing that mission personnel should possess in-depth knowledge of host societies, cultures and institutions.
Italy’s delegate welcomed the decision to align the structure of the Special Committee’s annual report with the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, noting that pre-deployment and mission training are crucial. Echoing that sentiment, the speaker for Japan highlighted the first pilot training of the United Nations Field Medical Assistance course in Uganda, which equipped 29 peacekeepers serving in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) with the skills to provide pre-hospital medical care — a vital tool for increasing the survival rate.
The representative of Turkey, meanwhile, expressed her hope that the Special Committee’s next report would succeed in uniting its members in support of enhanced mission performance, a stronger mandate to protect civilians and increased accountability. “We need to acknowledge and recognize the tough conditions in which peacekeepers conduct their work in various regions of the world with ever more complex mandates,” she said, noting that missions are increasingly proactive and versatile, with a mixture of civilian, political and military components.
Several delegations highlighted successes and raised concerns about specific missions and mandates. Kenya’s representative said that the threat of terrorism and violent extremism continues to complicate peacekeeping efforts in many parts of the world, noting the threat posed by Al-Shabaab in Somalia, where the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) operates. He urged the Somalia sanctions regime to consider including the terrorist group within the purview of the Security Council Committee responsible for sanctions regarding Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities.
The representative of Sudan said that the transition this year of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) to a special political mission represents a critical moment in a country’s path to sustainable peace and development.
Several delegations highlighted their country’s work as troop- and police-contributors, with Bhutan’s delegate noting that hers was the first Member State to sign the Rapid Deployment Level Agreement with the United Nations, in December 2017. Bhutan, she said, continues to support the United Nations Strategic Force Generation and Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System, and is ready to serve the international community, at any time and without caveat.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Mali, El Salvador, Senegal, Philippines, China, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Iran, Nigeria, Russian Federation, Lebanon, Djibouti, Rwanda and Israel.
A representative from the International Organization of La Francophonie also spoke.
ISSA KONFOUROU (Mali), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, attached great importance to the Special Committee, as his country hosts the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and is a troop contributor. Peacekeeping operations are facing new and emerging challenges, such as asymmetric attacks by terrorist groups. It is necessary to take this into account when “blue helmets” are deployed, to ensure the safety of both civilians and military personnel. Turning to the issue of caveats, he said they limit the capacity of force commanders on the ground and limit troop effectiveness. Regarding the women, peace and security agenda, he said that it is important to give greater priority to vulnerable civilian groups, including women and children. He welcomed MINUSMA’s efforts to implement its mandate for peace and reconciliation in Mali.
KAVOY ANTHONY ASHLEY (Jamaica) stressed, among other issues, the importance of including women in peace processes, saying that his country continues to support the active participation of women in all efforts to promote peace and security. Jamaica is particularly pleased with the Secretary-General’s system-wide strategy, which sets 2028 as the deadline to achieve gender parity among internationally recruited staff across the United Nations system. Jamaica is also pleased with the progress made in appointing gender advisers to peacekeeping operations and efforts to mainstream gender perspectives throughout all the offices of the Department of Peace Operations, he said, encouraging the Department to strengthen efforts to increase the number of female officers in peacekeeping missions.
TERADA TATSURO (Japan) welcomed the efforts of the Secretariat to improve medical care in the field, particularly through training and capacity-building. He welcomed the successful completion of the first pilot training of the United Nations Field Medical Assistance course in Uganda, under the Triangular Partnership Project. Through this training, 29 peacekeepers serving in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) acquired necessary skills to provide pre-hospital medical care, which is critical for increasing the survival rate. The success of this year’s negotiations in the Special Committee is critical for advancing peacekeeping reform, he said, stressing the need for the Secretariat and Member States to implement the Secretary-General’s “Action for Peacekeeping” initiative.
FÁTIMA GERALDINA CALDERÓN DE FLORES (El Salvador), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that peacekeeping operations play a key role in the maintenance of international peace and security. Her delegation supports the Action for Peace initiative and recognizes the Special Committee as the only body to review all aspects of peacekeeping. In that regard, she expressed hope that the Special Committee will achieve consensus during the current session. The issue of financing is outside the Special Committee’s purview, she said, urging Member States to pay their dues. Her country provides peacekeepers to seven missions around the world, she said, asking the United Nations to reimburse costs borne by troop- and police-contributing countries, including equipment costs. Along with Djibouti and Mongolia, El Salvador leads efforts to highlight the role of small countries in peacekeeping, sharing best practices.
RODOLFO FLORENTINO DÍAZ ORTEGA (Mexico) said that the capacity of peacekeeping operations needs to be strengthened in order to provide multidimensional solutions. Peacekeeping operations must have objective mandates that are structured in a clear and well-defined manner and the necessary resources, based on the situation on the ground. Given the vital role played by women and young people in the peace process, the Special Committee’s recommendations during the current session should focus on implementing both the women, peace and security and the youth, peace and security agendas. In 2016, Mexico reinitiated its participation in peacekeeping operations. It will continue to work with the United Nations to deploy more staff, including women, he said, noting that women comprise more than 30 per cent of the Mexican personnel serving in peacekeeping operations.
HAM SANG WOOK (Republic of Korea) said that the Special Committee should take advantage of the political momentum created by the Action for Peace initiative to translate the shared commitments into action. His country co-chairs the Group of Friends of United Nations Peace Operations and will help maintain that political momentum. The Special Committee should make concrete recommendations to enhance the capabilities of peacekeeping operations to better meet mission mandates in today’s complex environments. Peacekeepers should be better trained for local community engagement. Training guidelines should be established and trainings organized for this purpose. Korean peacekeepers understand that winning the hearts and minds of the local people helps to deliver mandates. Mission personnel should possess in-depth knowledge of host societies, cultures and institutions, he added.
CHEIKH NIANG (Senegal), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the current session provides an opportunity to address the operational challenges of peacekeeping. The common awareness of the need to protect United Nations personnel must be translated into specific actions to ensure their security. Strengthening the safety of United Nations peacekeepers should be a priority, particularly in the five high-risk missions. He underscored the important role played by police in peacekeeping operations, noting that they help host countries in the protection of civilians. Noting new and emerging challenges posed by non-State armed groups and the regional nature of conflicts, he said that the success of peacekeeping depends on strong partnerships with Member States and regional organizations. The United Nations should promote the capacities of regional partners such as the African Union and multilingualism in peacekeeping operations must be respected.
Ms. JUBAIRA-BAJA (Philippines) said that her country is committed to increasing the participation of women in uniformed roles and supports the call to integrate gender perspectives in all aspects of peacekeeping. It is further committed to increasing the deployment of women peacekeepers at all levels and in leadership positions as a key component in generating specialized, high-performing capabilities for United Nations peacekeeping. The Philippines supports tailored, context-specific peacekeeping approaches to protecting civilians, with an emphasis on women and children. “Success in peacekeeping operations must be measured by the mandate to protect civilians as the core criterion of success,” she said.
FRANCESCO SAVERIO MANOZZI (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, welcomed a decision to align the structure of the Special Committee’s report with the Action for Peacekeeping initiative. As a top troop contributor and a main financial supporter in Europe, Italy is well aware of the challenges facing United Nations peacekeeping today, he said, stressing the need for synergies among troop- and police-contributing countries. Predeployment and mission training are key, he said, also calling for an increase in the number of women deployed in the field through targeted training. It is essential to provide missions with the best troops and equipment. In this regard, his delegation welcomes the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse. Italy was the first country to contribute to the Trust Fund for Victims. Together with Bangladesh, Italy leads the Group of Friends for leading on environmental management in the field, which focuses on reducing United Nations peacekeeping’s environmental footprint. Partnerships with regional organizations are also important.
WU HAITAO (China), noting the increasing complexity of peacekeeping mandates and deployment, pointed to progress in the past year in implementing the Action for Peacekeeping initiative. The basic principles of peacekeeping operations, such as impartiality and the non-use of force, except in self-defence and in defence of the mandate, must be strictly followed when promoting peacekeeping reform. Ensuring the safety of peacekeepers is essential for improving peacekeeping operations, he said, calling on all parties to pay more attention to peacekeepers’ safety. Building strong partnerships to provide support is vital, he said, calling on the Security Council, the Secretariat and police- and- troop- contributing countries to closely coordinate and strengthen communications. The United Nations should also bolster peacekeeping partnerships with the African Union. Disputes should be settled through political means, he said.
IBRAHIMA TOURE (Côte d’Ivoire), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that despite successes, United Nations peacekeeping still faces challenges, welcoming that 152 States endorsed the shared commitments to enhance the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations. His delegation is pleased with the new structure of the Special Committee report, which takes into account the Action for Peacekeeping initiative. He attached great importance to clearly defined mandates and applauded the strengthening of United Nations-African Union cooperation. Côte d’Ivoire provides training to its peacekeepers — on a wide range of issues, including ethics, trust building, human rights, civilian protection and gender perspectives — before they are deployed. Women comprise approximately 15 per cent of its battalion sent to Mali, he said, stressing the need to increase the participation of women.
ANNE GUEGUEN (France), associating herself with the European Union, welcomed the remarkable work of 80,000 peacekeepers who demonstrate that peacekeeping is a complement to conflict prevention. She welcomed the initial steps to implement the Action for Peacekeepers initiative, particularly in terms of improving peacekeeper performance, as that determines the credibility of missions and the support of Member States. The peacekeeping environment has changed, as there are now asymmetric threats such as terrorist attacks and peacekeepers are also targets of armed groups. Women must be given their proper place among mission staff. Their involvement impacts the operational effectiveness of missions, as women are active in the field, in contact with local populations and help to arrive at peaceful solutions. When a leader of a mission is not up to the task, this should be recognized, and action should be taken before it is too late.
LUIS GALLEGOS CHIRIBOGA (Ecuador), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, outlined several points which his country considered important, expressing hope that the spirit of cooperation will prevail in the Special Committee during this session. He highlighted, among other issues, the need to implement assigned mandates, the value of the Action for Peacekeeping initiative and the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy against sexual exploitation and abuse. He also emphasized the importance of involving women in peacekeeping, as they are agents of change. It is also vital to invest more in pre-deployment training. Highlighting the nexus between peace and development, he called for a renewed momentum for triangular cooperation.
DOMA TSHERING (Bhutan), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that peacekeeping is a collective endeavour shared by Member States, the Secretariat and other stakeholders. Partnership is at the heart of the Action for Peacekeeping initiative and intrinsic to successful partnerships is national commitment and political will. Bhutan is a relatively new troop- and- police- contributing country, having put its first “boots on the ground” in 2014. Peacekeepers from Bhutan continue to adhere to the highest standards of integrity. Bhutan was the first country to sign the Rapid Deployment Level Agreement with the United Nations in December 2017. It is now in the third cycle of that Agreement, and Bhutan continues to support the United Nations Strategic Force Generation and Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System, with a pledged force protection company that can adjust its capability to more robust roles in order to meet mission operations’ needs. Bhutan stands ready to deploy its first contingent, and to serve the international community when called to do so, without caveat.
MOHAMMAD REZA SAHRAEI (Iran), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the United Nations role in conflict prevention must be enhanced, noting that the Special Committee is the only body to review peacekeeping in its entirety. In that regard, he expressed regret that the Special Committee’s 2019 session failed to reach consensus on its report. He drew attention to important principles United Nations peacekeeping must abide by, including the consent of parties, non-use of force, political independence, non-interference, sovereignty and domestic jurisdiction. Military intervention by the United States and others should be avoided. On the issue of advanced intelligence and other new technologies, he said that the legal aspects of using such modern technologies should be decided by an appropriate intergovernmental body.
RAZIYE BILGE KOCYIGIT GRBA (Turkey), associating herself with the European Union, said that United Nations peacekeeping has suffered a high number of fatalities in the last decade. “We need to acknowledge and recognize the tough conditions in which peacekeepers conduct their work in various regions of the world with ever more complex mandates,” she said, noting that the evolution of peacekeeping operations is evident as it has moved towards more proactive and versatile operations with a mixture of civilian, political and military components. She expressed hope that the Special Committee’s next report would bring its membership together in supporting the Secretariat to ensure enhanced mission performance, better training and capacity-building for the peacekeepers, a strengthened mandate for the protection of civilians, as well as increased accountability and transparency in peacekeeping operations. Working with regional partners is also vital for the success of missions, she said, commending the enhanced partnership between the United Nations and the African Union.
IBRAHIM MODIBBO UMAR (Nigeria) championed the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, noting that peacekeeping is a collective endeavour which demands strong bonds of collaboration and partnership between the United Nations and its many partners, particularly troop- and police-contributing countries, host nations and regional organizations. Such partnerships are necessary during the entire life span of a mission, from establishment to closure. Nigeria commends efforts to strengthen the strategic peacekeeping partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, and the signing of the Joint United Nations-African Union Framework for Enhancing Partnership on Peace and Security. There is a need for sustained, predictable and flexible funding for African Union-led peace support operations authorized by the Security Council.
EDWARD RUGENDO NYAGA (Kenya) said that humanity faces security threats which are both non-traditional and with regional dimensions. The threat of terrorism and violent extremism continues to complicate peacekeeping efforts in many parts of the world. The risk posed by Al-Shabaab in Somalia remains the greatest threat to peace, security and stability in that country and the region. Since 2007, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has had to face this extremely hostile terrorist group. Many continue to lose their lives at the hands of the group through direct attacks in camps, Government installations and while on convoys, with improvised explosive devices being the weapon of choice. It is time to acknowledge the magnitude of this threat. For this reason, Kenya continues to urge the Somalia sanctions regime to consider listing the Al-Shabaab terror group under the Security Council Committee pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, where it rightfully belongs.
HUSNI MUSTAFA YAGOUB HUSNI (Sudan) said that the transition from a United Nations peacekeeping operation to a special political mission or country team, and from one type of United Nations mission to another, represents a critical moment in a country’s path to sustainable peace and development. This requires national ownership, national leadership and common planning, as was the case with the joint visioning exercise between Sudan and the United Nations, which took place in Khartoum in 2019. Intergovernmental and United Nations system-wide coherence are the building blocks of effective support to countries undergoing transitions. The peacekeeping missions in Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Sierra Leone have all completed transitions in recent years. The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), which began as a hybrid peacekeeping operation, is expected to transition to a special political mission by the end of 2020 with the collaboration of the Government of Sudan, the African Union and the United Nations.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said that there needs to be a division of labour in the United Nations where the general strategic parameters of peacekeeping are agreed upon in the Special Committee, with the Security Council working out the specific mandates for specific missions. At the heart of peacekeeping reform are issues regarding increasing the safety of peacekeepers and improving the effectiveness of missions. Turning to the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, he said that it is important to have genuine partnerships to ensure that peacekeeping operations are successful, which means that there should be strict and unwavering abidance to the international agreements undertaken. Regarding the Declaration of Shared Commitments, he said that peacekeepers and the United Nations should cooperate with the national authorities of host countries, as they bear the primary responsibility to protect civilians. Civil society can only play a subsidiary role. Peacekeepers should remain neutral under all circumstances. A basic principle of peacekeeping is respect for the sovereignty of the host country, he said, going on to note that the main goal of peacekeepers is to facilitate reconciliation and not to become an armed force.
AMAL MUDALLALI (Lebanon), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed support to the Special Committee and the need to provide peacekeeping missions with necessary human and financial resources to implement their mandates. Peacekeeping operations cannot replace political processes. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is one of the largest peacekeeping missions in the world, preventing the situation in the country from deteriorating. Lebanon supports Council resolution 1701 (2006) in its entirety as it aims to prevent an escalation of conflict on the country’s southern border. UNIFIL and local communities enjoy amicable relationships, conducting joint patrols. The Force was supposed to be temporary, but the crisis has continued. Efforts must be made to address the root causes of the conflict to avoid infinite extension of the Force.
SAADA DAHER HASSAN (Djibouti) said that the current session offers a new opportunity to make concrete recommendations that will help bring the necessary reforms launched by the Secretary-General over a year ago, and to respond to the increasing demand and challenges missions are facing on the ground. These challenges cannot be resolved by the United Nations alone. A greater focus on conflict prevention, mediation, and enhanced sub-regional, regional and global partnership is crucial for conflict resolution. She welcomed the partnership between the United Nations and the African Union, hoping that it will increase African capacity. Advocating for pre-deployment training, she pointed out that 80 per cent of peacekeeping personnel are deployed in Africa. In this regard, she called for greater contribution by Francophone countries.
BONIFACE RUTIKANGA (Rwanda), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians — a non-binding set of pledges to implement certain best practices in peacekeeping — are the best instruments with which to address aspects of peacekeeping such as assessment and planning, force generation, training and equipping personnel, performance and accountability. If implemented effectively they can enhance peacekeeping performance while providing for accountability standards. While the primary responsibility of the protection of civilians lies with host nations, in the absence of their will or capabilities, United Nations peacekeeping should bridge the gap, in accordance with the rules of engagement. Women should be part of peace processes as peacekeepers, negotiators, mediators and decision-makers, he said, welcoming the Secretary-General’s agenda in relation to women’s empowerment and gender parity in the United Nations system and expressing hope that this agenda is gradually mainstreamed into the military and police units of peacekeeping operations.
Ms. GEVA (Israel) emphasized the importance of women’s participation in all stages of peacekeeping as it is vital for mission efficiency. Numerical goals are not enough, she said, calling for more fundamental structural changes that encourage women’s participation. There are not enough facilities available for women. Member States must also endeavour to break down the barriers that discourage women from joining security forces. Peacekeeping missions must be equipped with information, knowledge and new technologies to cope with terrorism and other threats. Israel has partnered with the United Nations to enhance capacities in these areas, including medical aid training for peacekeepers. With the Action for Peacekeeping initiative setting a framework, it is time to focus on implementing many recommendations made.
Ms. PIA-COMELLA, International Organization of La Francophonie, said that the statement of shared commitments is the new road map for all, including her organization. The use of French by peacekeeping personnel, when it is the language of the host country, contributes to the peacekeeping operation’s performance. During the high-level week of the General Assembly’s seventy-fourth session, the Secretary-General of her organization stated its two priorities in support of peacekeeping: French language development and promoting interculturality. Linguistic skills dealing with local realities should be at the heart of the next Special Committee report. When it comes to partnerships, the growing complexity of theatres of operation and their scope means that there should be closer cooperation among all participating parties. In this regard, regional and subregional organizations, especially in Africa, have a critical role to play.