I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia? and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia?, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this declaration.
Let me begin by thanking the French Presidency of the Security Council and the UK delegation for undertaking this important and very timely initiative that should launch a process of deliberations on a topic that is essential not only for the Security Council with its special responsibility for peacekeeping but also for the whole UN system and all Member States. I would like to extend special thanks to Under-Secretary-General Le Roy and Under-Secretary-General Malcorra for their informative and comprehensive briefings.
The European Union fully supports the United Nations in the field of peacekeeping. Indeed, the last decade has been a decade of increased challenges in this regard. The demand for peacekeepers has been growing steadily since the 1990s and this trend is likely to continue. Moreover, the peacekeeping operations have become more complex and challenging in terms of planning, mandating and management. At present, peacekeepers are needed in highly volatile environments like Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or Haiti. The enormous requirements for rapidly deployable, well-trained and adequately equipped personnel constantly remind us that the UN peacekeeping resources are not unlimited. In parallel, the UN peacekeeping budget has increased five times over the last ten years and is currently bigger than the regular budget. Despite all these difficulties, the UN peacekeeping operations have brought security to many destabilized regions.
The European Union has a long established partnership with the United Nations in the field of crisis management. Our cooperation, which began with the Artemis operation in the DRC in 2003 and was subsequently formalized in the first joint EU-UN Declaration signed on 24 September 2003, has substantially developed over the past years. Today, the EU and the UN work closely side by side in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Western Balkans.
While being active in conflict prevention and resolution in different parts of the world, the European Union has also successfully conducted peacekeeping operations mandated by the United Nations and consistent with its Charter. The level of support that the EU has been providing is perhaps best illustrated by the current EUFOR Chad/CAR mission or the first EU maritime operation launched off the Somali coast in December 2008 to protect the supply of humanitarian aid to the Somali people. The EU Member States also actively participate in UN peacekeeping missions and contribute over 40% to the UN peacekeeping budget. Furthermore, some twenty operations under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) have been carried out so far, many of them under the Security Council mandate.
I would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the Troop and Police Contributing Countries for their continuing commitment. The European Union is seriously concerned about the increasing number of fatalities among UN peacekeepers and would like to stress again that attacks against UN personnel are absolutely unacceptable. Safety and security of UN personnel must be given the highest priority and the EU supports all possible protective measures. At the same time, peacekeeping troops need to show impecable behaviour and the EU is gravely concerned about recent reports of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeepers. The EU fully supports the zero tolerance policy.
The 60th anniversary of UN peacekeeping operations provides a unique opportunity to take stock of what has been achieved. The tasks of UN peacekeeping operations have evolved as well as the context in which they operate. These developments require new approaches when formulating the respective mandates. The objectives of each and every operation need to be clear and realistic. The mandates should be developed in close consultations with the Secretariat and they must be matched with adequate resources. In this regard, we all have a common responsibility as UN Member States. Clear benchmarks and exit strategies should be developed prior to deployment of peacekeepers so that the international community can monitor progress and fill the gaps where needed. In other words, the main elements of the mandates should be elaborated in a systematic, well coordinated and realistic manner in order to ensure that they are achievable. Such an approach will also contribute to enhancing the credibility of the UN.
Recently, the peacekeeping missions have increasingly become multi-dimensional and integrated. At least eight of the current operations have an explicit mandate to protect civilians. The EU strongly believes that protection of civilians should be an integral part of the mandate of peacekeeping operations and that the UN should strengthen its capacity to deliver in this area. The EU supports a comprehensive and multifaceted approach to peacekeeping. In its conflict management capacities and instruments the UN should focus on the root causes of conflicts and give special emphasis on supporting credible political peace processes and immediate post-conflict peacebuilding efforts, notably in the areas of police, rule of law, DDR and SSR. In this regard, the EU welcomes the increased attention that these issues have recently been receiving in the UN Secretariat, as well as in the Security Council and among UN Member States. The monitoring capacities and evaluation of operations need to be strengthened. The European Union underlines the importance of recruiting qualified personnel in a timely manner and supports creation of a roster of civilian experts who could be deployed whenever and wherever necessary.
Past experiences have shown that a smooth transition between peacekeeping and peace-building is vital. In this context, the European Union underlines the important role of the Peacebuilding Commission in advising the Security Council on relevant issues.
UN peacekeeping capacities should be deployed only when there is no other viable option and only for the shortest time necessary. Peacekeeping is costly and rebuilding peaceful and sustainable societies after an armed conflict requires a lot of resources. Every effort the international community undertakes in order to prevent conflicts is therefore worthwhile.
The European Union continues to look for more ways how to support international peace and security endeavours. One of the important tools is the EU Instrument for Stability with a 7-year budget of over 2 billion EUR. In addition, the Joint Africa-EU Strategy adopted in 2007 has an important security component. Another way the EU is supporting Africa-led peace operations is the African Peace Facility aimed at enhancing the institutional capacities of the African Union and African sub-regional organizations in relation to peacekeeping and conflict prevention. In this regard the European Union aims at enhancing an effective partnership in order to improve planning, deployment and management of African peacekeeping operations in the framework of predictable funding mechanisms and clear guidelines.
The UN peacekeeping faces many challenges. Nearly a decade after the Brahimi report it is time to revisit the panels recommendations, review their implementation and look strategically into the future. Much can be done to improve our practice, in particular on the three series of issues identified in the Franco-British non-paper. We, therefore, welcome this timely debate in the Security Council, and we are ready to carry forward this reflection also in the C-34. We very much look forward to the outcomes of the process launched today.