Speakers Appeal for Realistic Mandates, Better Strategic Communications as Fourth Committee Continues Debate on Peacekeeping
Regional Partnerships, Better Training and Equipment Also Highlighted
As the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued its general debate on all aspects of United Nations peacekeeping, speakers called today for realistic mandates, improved strategic communication and support for regional partnerships.
Canada’s representative described United Nations peacekeeping as the ultimate exercise in multilateral cooperation. Also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, she noted the new threats and systematic challenges facing modern-day peacekeeping and welcomed the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping and Action for Peacekeeping Plus (A4P+) frameworks, with their focus on accountability of peacekeepers and accountability to peacekeepers.
El Salvador’s representative was among several delegates from troop- and police-contributing countries who took the floor today, stressing that peacekeeping mandates, objectives and chains of command must be clearly defined. Expressing concern about attacks against peacekeeping personnel, she called for effective communication strategies to be put into place to guarantee public and political support and counter the threat of false information.
Pakistan’s representative, noting his country’s five decades of experience and expertise in peacekeeping, also condemned attacks against United Nations missions and personnel. The Organization must continue to look into the causes of mounting violence and hate speech against peacekeepers, he stressed.
Nepal’s delegate said peacekeeping operations are underfunded and under-resourced, as he echoed the call for specific and achievable mandates, supported with adequate financial and technological resources. Member States must contribute to the peacekeeping budget in a full and timely manner to ensure resource predictability, he added.
Senegal’s representative highlighted the importance of multilingualism in peacekeeping operations as she called for linguistic balance in publications related to peacekeeping as well as in the choice of leaders in key roles. She further stressed the important role of her continent in peacekeeping, calling for predictable and lasting funding for African Union efforts in peacekeeping.
South Africa’s representative also stressed the need for close cooperation with regional organizations, as he called for unambiguous and realistic mandates that are well-articulated and context-specific. He also stressed the importance of building trust with local populations served by the peacekeeping operation.
Lebanon’s representative, giving a host country perspective, said that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been crucial for preventing hostilities and ensuring stability. Welcoming the renewal of that Mission’s mandate in August, he highlighted the special measures taken to support the Lebanese army due to the country’s economic crisis in Lebanon. He cautioned, however, that peacekeeping is supposed to be a temporary option to problems that require permanent political solutions.
Cuba’s delegate, in the same vein, said peacekeeping operations must not be an end in themselves. Rather, they must be part of a long-term strategy for establishing peace and advancing sustainable development, carried out with respect for sovereign equality, political independence and non-interference in national affairs.
Also speaking today were representatives of Kenya, Iraq, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Venezuela, Syria, Burkina Faso, Portugal, Tunisia, Thailand, Switzerland, Rwanda, Peru, Singapore, Sierra Leone, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
The representatives of Israel and Syria spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 3 November, to continue its general debate on peacekeeping operations.
The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said United Nations peacekeeping is the ultimate exercise in multilateral cooperation. In many contexts, it has been highly effective. However, modern-day peacekeeping faces new threats and systemic challenges, she said, describing the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping and the Action for Peacekeeping Plus (A4P+) frameworks as a real opportunity to ensure that United Nations peacekeeping is fit for purpose in an increasingly complex world. Peace operations play a critical role in advancing the women, peace and security agenda. The United Nations, Member States and other stakeholders must take action, both nationally and in the field, to increase the meaningful participation of uniformed women in peacekeeping operations, and to remove barriers to their participation.
Canada, Australia and New Zealand also welcome A4P+’s focus on both accountability of peacekeepers and accountability to peacekeepers, she said. The credibility of the United Nations and its peacekeeping operations depends on the effective implementation of mandates to protect civilians from the threat of physical violence, as well as the implementation of complementary mandates to protect children and women. It is critical to prevent and address sexual exploitation and abuse that causes irrevocable harm to survivors and undermines United Nations peacekeeping. Peacekeepers deserve and demand a process that fairly and promptly investigates and prosecutes perpetrators of crimes and attacks against them, she added. Finally, United Nations peacebuilding efforts should have adequate, predictable and sustained financing to assist countries to prevent the outbreak, escalation and recurrence of conflict, including in the context of peacekeeping transitions.
The representative of Kenya said peacekeeping remains one of the key instruments available to the United Nations to maintain international peace and security. However, dynamic threats facing peacekeeping operations continue to grow. It is important that peacekeeping be mapped onto a solid political agreement, making peacekeepers part of the process. Regional dynamics affect peacekeeping more than before, he added, necessitating that peacekeeping missions cooperate with regional organizations and use the best means possible to address challenges. Peacekeeping missions should be given the financial means to fulfil their mandates, including training and capacity-building to make sure that they are ready for their tasks, he added.
The representative of Cuba, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that peacekeeping operations must be carried out in accordance with the principles of the United Nations, including respect for sovereign equality, political independence and non-interference in national affairs. Noting the increasing complexity of peacekeeping mandates, he expressed concern that using peacekeeping operations to fight terrorism and transnational crime increases threat of attacks against peacekeeping personnel. These operations must not be an end in themselves, but rather part of a long-term strategy for establishing peace and advancing sustainable development. The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations is the only forum mandated to fully address everything to do with peacekeeping, he said, adding that it is unacceptable to manipulate protection of civilians in order to interfere in the internal affairs of States.
The representative of Iraq, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, reiterated support for the Our Common Agenda report, prepared by the Secretary-General, which aims to unite Member State’s efforts towards peace and security. Noting that peacekeeping can facilitate political processes, protect civilians and assist in disarmament, he said that the Special Committee is the only forum mandated to review peacekeeping operations in all their aspects. Highlighting the threat posed by climate change to peace, he said that natural disasters cause three times as much displacement as conflicts. Pointing to the impact of water salination and food insecurity, he also spotlighted Iraq’s contributions to peacekeeping. Iraqi Security Forces helped tackle terrorist criminal gangs in the region, he said, adding that “we have achieved success stories” in the protection of civilians.
The representative of Nepal said that over the years, United Nations peacekeeping has evolved into multidimensional and multi-faceted operations with complex mandates that include upholding the rule of law, protecting civilians and ensuring human rights. And yet, they are underfunded and under-resourced undertakings. Noting that many Nepalese peacekeepers have been deployed around the world, he stressed the need for a holistic and integrated approach to peacekeeping. Mandates should be specific, prioritized and achievable, and supported with adequate financial and technological resources adapted to the reality on the ground. Member States must contribute to the peacekeeping budget in full and in a timely manner to ensure resource predictability, he added.
The representative of Democratic People's Republic of Korea said peacekeeping operations must respect the principle of national sovereignty as enshrined in the United Nations Charter. They must not be carried out in the interests of certain countries and the Security Council should establish peacekeeping mandates with the consent of the country concerned with the aim of ensuring a political settlement to conflicts. Terminating ineffective peacekeeping operations is one way to relieve the financial burden on developing countries, thus enabling them to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Peacekeeping operations must not be fabricated under the guise of protecting peace, as is the case with the operation in the south of the Korean Peninsula, which should be dismantled immediately, he added.
The representative of Senegal, associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement, paying tribute to a fallen peacekeeper and noting that her country is a major troop and police contributor to United Nations peacekeeping, welcomed efforts to mitigate threats towards “blue helmets” as well as the use of telemedicine in remote missions. She also expressed support for the zero-tolerance policy towards sexual exploitation and abuse, and called as well for predictable and lasting funding for African Union peacekeeping efforts. Special political missions also need to be bolstered, she said, adding that an optimal assessment of demands and resources is necessary to ensure realistic and achievable mandates. Reaffirming the importance of multilingualism, she called for linguistic balance in publications related to peacekeeping and in the choice of leaders in key roles.
The representative of Venezuela, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, underscored the growing scope of peacekeeping operations, ranging from election monitoring to demobilization, disarmament and reconciliation programmes. Noting that some mandates include protection of civilians, which is the responsibility of States, he said such changes must be addressed with a high level of caution and with respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter. The principles that govern the general framework of peacekeeping operations must be rigorously observed as well, he said, highlighting the importance of consent among different parties, impartiality and the non-use of force except in situations of legitimate defence. This is essential for strengthening the legitimacy and efficiency of the United Nations, he said, adding that peacekeeping operations must avoid becoming a part of the conflict.
The representative of South Africa said that his country remains committed to initiatives aimed at forging unambiguous and realistic mandates which ensure the safety of better-equipped and better-trained peacekeepers as well as close cooperation with regional organizations. Mandates must be well-articulated, context-specific and based on developments in the host country while also building trust with the local population. New technologies should form an integral part of all phases of peacekeeping operations, he said, adding that continuous and integrated training should also be provided.
The representative of Syria, noting that the United Nations Charter says nothing about the concept of peacekeeping operations, said that such operations must respect political independence and non-interference in political affairs, along with territorial sovereignty and integrity. In no way can they represent an alternative to a permanent solution. She condemned ongoing violence by Israeli forces which target civilian infrastructure within Syria, resulting in casualties and the abduction and interrogation of Syrian citizens. Peacekeeping operations in the Middle East have been going on for years due to Israel’s aggressive policies, creating a major burden on the United Nations financial and human resources, she said.
The representative of El Salvador, associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, and noting that personnel from her country are participating in several missions, underscored the important role of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, adding that peacekeeping mandates, objectives and chains of command, must be clearly defined. She stressed the need for comprehensive and coherent transitions, adding that peacekeeping operations are by their own definition temporary mechanisms. They must therefore be part of a broader structure to support viable long-terms solutions. Expressing concern about attacks against peacekeeping personnel, she called for the implementation of effective communication strategies to guarantee public and political support for peacekeeping missions and to counter the threat of false information.
The representative of Pakistan, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country has deployed 200,000 personnel in peacekeeping missions all over the world over the years. Noting that he is speaking from “five decades of experience and expertise”, he added that 168 Pakistani peacekeepers have died while serving the cause of peace. In addition to being a long-standing troop and police-contributing country, Pakistan hosted one of the first peacekeeping missions, namely the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan. Peacekeeping is most effective when it is part of the overall political strategy to resolve conflicts and sustain peace, he said, adding that the Organization must continue to look into the causes of mounting violence and hate speech against peacekeepers. He went on to express support for equipping missions with new technologies and called for comprehensive peacekeeping strategies which include regional and sub-regional organizations, especially the African Union.
The representative of Burkina Faso, pointing to the situation in the Sahel region, said peace must be established in areas which are vulnerable to different conflicts. Peacekeeping operations should be given more robust mandates that will enable them to protect themselves, he said, adding that his country has always aligned with the international community to promote peace and stability despite terrorist threats. He conveyed Burkina Faso’s gratitude to the Fourth Committee for its constant support in its fight against terrorism, restoring territorial integrity, overcoming humanitarian hardship and ensuring national cohesion.
The representative of Portugal said that as a consistent participant in United Nations peacekeeping operations, her country is well aware that peacekeeping is more and more demanding, with more complex and hostile operational environments. Specialized capabilities must be generated which can respond to such situations, ensure success and protect “blue helmets”. Portugal is fully committed to seeking ways to make peacekeeping operations more effective, combining an approach of resilience and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, she added. Peacekeeping operations can only be effective if they have adequate resources, she said, adding that the protection of civilians must remain a cross-cutting concern throughout conflict cycles, with training of paramount importance in this regard.
The representative of Tunisia, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said that peacekeeping operations are more important than ever in light of the conflicts around the world. Reiterating the importance of clear mandates with clear objectives and stronger trilateral cooperation, he said that missions must be adequately resourced. Expressing concern about increased attacks and complex security challenges facing missions in conflict zones, he also pointed to the need to enhance the role of women in peacekeeping and peacebuilding. He also called for increased cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations and emphasized the importance of supporting the United Nations-African Union partnership.
The representative of Lebanon, associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, emphasized that peacekeeping operations must be adequately resourced. Condemning all attacks against peacekeeping forces, he highlighted the attack against a convoy of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Accountability must be ensured for the perpetrators of these crimes, he said, adding that the Secretariat must strengthen the capacities of these missions to address loopholes, increase security and raise awareness. Highlighting the vital role played by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), he said that its contribution to preventing hostilities has been crucial for stability. Welcoming the renewal of that Mission’s mandate in August, he highlighted the special measures to support the Lebanese army amidst the country’s economic crisis.
The representative of Thailand said peacekeeping operations must remain efficient and fit for purpose, with the views and needs of the host country and neighbouring regions taken into account. Missions must be given clear, focused and implementable mandates as well as adequate resources. Most importantly, efforts must be in line with the host country’s priorities. Noting Thailand’s long-standing experience as a troop- and police-contributing country, he said peacekeeping is not a goal in itself. Rather, it must be viewed in the full spectrum of the peace continuum, to ensure that peace will not only take root, but also thrive. With the consent of the host country, peacekeepers can help contribute to early peacebuilding efforts, including capacity-building, infrastructure support and community health care, he said.
The representative of Switzerland noted that interesting ideas have been put forward to address the challenge of disinformation, which some peacekeeping missions are confronting. Strengthening missions’ ability to protect civilians in support of national efforts is important, he said, adding that greater attention must be paid to peacekeeping intelligence. Progress in the area of accountability for crimes committed against civilians must continue, he continued, also emphasizing that national authorities must be at the heart of transition processes. He went on to say that disinformation must be addressed by both peacekeeping missions and national authorities in order to counter dangerous narratives, with good strategic communication being essential in this regard.
The representative of Rwanda, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that violent attacks are being directed against peacekeepers by discontented civilians with the support of some political leaders for their own gains. Hate speech targeting some ethnic groups and all peacekeepers has meanwhile reached an alarming level. Calling on the United Nations to counter physical attacks and the proliferation of bigoted content, he said it is also essential to bring perpetrators to account. Though States made significant pledges during the last peacekeeping ministerial meeting, due to the consequences of geopolitics on the global supply chain, many countries may not be able to meet these pledges, he cautioned.
The representative of Peru, highlighting the need to boost the (A4P) initiative, noted that peacekeepers frequently operate in inhospitable environments that are remote and hostile, in a global context of proliferating armed groups and violent extremism. Peacekeeping operations must support local authorities in their responses to violent scenarios, he said, also emphasizing the importance of the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in peace processes. Noting the important role that women have played in building sustainable peace, he noted the manner in which they facilitate links with the communities affected by violence. He went on to say that Peru is committed to achieving gender parity and removing stumbling blocks for the participation of women in peace processes.
The representative of Singapore said it is vital to enhance the capacity and accountability of peacekeeping mission, with the women, peace and security agenda at the heart of such efforts. Digital transformation will help peacekeepers and mitigate risks, she added. Singapore has deployed more than 2,000 peacekeeping personnel over the last decades, in addition to providing security for United-Nations-sponsored elections. Going forward, peacekeeping operations must receive the financial support they need to fulfil their mandates, she said, emphasizing that all Member States should fulfil their legal and financial obligations in this regard.
The representative of Sierra Leone said peacekeeping missions should be constantly reviewed in a holistic manner. Emphasizing women’s valuable role in peacekeeping, she said that Sierra Leone has met the target of 30 per cent gender equity in this regard. The support of the entire United Nations system is vital to help peacekeeping operations adapt to the challenges they face, including health emergencies and rising geopolitical tensions, through continued multilateral cooperation, she said.
The representative of Saudi Arabia, noting the fresh outbreak of armed conflicts and civil wars in addition to the proliferation of armed groups and terrorist groups, said it is essential to bolster the mandates of peacekeeping operations. Expressing support for the A4P initiative, he said Saudi Arabia is working alongside the United Nations by honoring its financial commitments to peacekeeping operations in addition to providing political and logistical support. Saudi Arabia continues to be among the first to respond to emergency appeals, he said, adding that Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter reaffirms the vital role of regional organizations in resolving conflicts. Stressing the need to provide regional organizations a larger role in peacekeeping operations, he highlighted their ability to sustain peace and strengthen the role of preventive diplomacy.
The representative of Ecuador, associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said peacekeeping operations must be implemented in line with the United Nations Charter. Acknowledging the work of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, he added that peacekeeping operations must have political support as well as the resources they need to discharge increasingly complex mandates. Turning to the problem of false information and disinformation, he said strategic communication is essential for raising awareness and building trust between peacekeepers and the communities they serve. As a non-permanent member of the Security Council for 2023-24, Ecuador will work to enhance strategic communications, he added.
The representative of Japan, noting that the operating environment for some peacekeeping operations remains severe, said that increasingly tense international circumstances are having a negative impact on peacekeepers, severely limiting their activities, in particular medevac and transport capabilities. Peacekeeping operations and personnel must improve their operations while ensuring their safety and security by enhancing leadership and bolstering medical and engineering capacities. Operating effectively requires strategic communications with various actors, including local entities, he said, also emphasizing the importance of international forums for discussing peacekeeping.
The representative of Republic of Korea said that while the peacekeeping environment has changed dramatically over the decades, this has not stopped peacekeepers from accomplishing their mandates. The Republic of Korea is proud to be a long-standing financial contributor to the United Nations peacekeeping pillar, he said, emphasizing that Member States’ pledges must be fulfilled. As technology advances, peacekeepers find themselves facing increasingly complex threats, including disinformation campaigns led by armed groups, he noted. Going forward, there should be more focus on comprehensive means to ensure continuing peace, he said, underscoring the role that regional groups can play.
Right of Reply
The representative of Israel, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to the statement made by Syria’s representative, saying that that country has abused the human rights of its own population, including through the use of chemical weapons. Syria has forfeited the right to make baseless allegations, she added.
The representative of Syria said it is ironic to hear from Israel as it attempts to hide its endless list of crimes. That country has provided support to armed groups, she said, adding that it has targeted many parts of her country with high levels of hatred.