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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

Madam Chair, 

  1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
  1. The Acceding Country Croatia*, the Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro* and Iceland+, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration. 

Madam Chair, 

  1. Over the next couple of weeks, we will once again go over the nuts and bolts of UN peacekeeping. Among other things, we will speak about resource and capability matrices, global and regional service centres, civilian capacities and operational guidelines. Nevertheless, before we do so, we have to remember to always read between the lines of our peacekeeping language. In other words, we have to keep in mind that peacekeeping is about people. People like James Gatgong. Sudan’s civil war cut his childhood short, as he was forced to pick up a weapon and learn how to employ deadly force at the age of 13. Today, as an adult, James Gatgong is still fighting. However, this time he is fighting to promote the rights of children, working for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan as a child protection officer. James Gatgong’s transformation from child soldier to child protection officer and his daily work teaching children’s rights in military bases and class rooms in many ways stand as a powerful example of what the international community can do to empower people and transform their lives.
  1. As it happens, UNMISS, the mission he works for in the world’s newest country, stands as an example of some of the gains we have achieved with the peacekeeping reform agenda shaped in this very Committee. Just last month, the Security Council commended UNMISS for how the mission translated its protection of civilians mandate into action in response to the situation in Jonglei State, helping to save many lives. At the same time, the UN’s new field support arrangements saved money and made for a lighter mission footprint, with the regional service center in Entebbe supporting UNMISS for example in the areas of training and transport. Also, this case illustrates how far we have come with consultations of police- and troop-contributing countries, which DPKO very often involved in the deployment of the mission from an early stage on.

Madam Chair, 

  1. Now that we’re seeing the results from New Horizon in many a mission, we have all the more reason to stay the course and continue to implement this reform initiative. That is what DPKO and DFS propose and that is what the EU supports. Nevertheless, even as we stay the course and focus on implementation, we need to stay open to innovation. Our ever-changing peacekeeping environment demands no less. In the words of Lewis Carroll, “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place”.
  1. Given the ongoing challenges involving UN peacekeeping, we are happy that the Secretary-General has made it into a centrepiece of his second-term agenda. Last month, he committed himself to, and I quote, “construct an enhanced partnership for peacekeeping.” End of quote. That partnership is our rock – without it, we are building our peacekeeping edifice on sand. Partnership between the Security Council, General Assembly bodies, contributing countries, host governments, regional and other partners, and the Secretariat. To act in the spirit of partnership means, for example, that the Security Council seeks genuine consultation with contributing countries as early and as much as possible. It means we all work to preserve a culture of consensus decision-making where it exists. And it means promoting peacekeeping operations that are consistent with both current field realities and financial realities.

 Madam Chair, 

  1. You can count on the EU to act in this spirit of partnership during the 2012 session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. Let me use the three peacekeeping actions in the Secretary-General’s second-term agenda to briefly touch upon the EU’s priorities for this C34. These actions are: first, burden-sharing and strong collaboration with regional organizations; second, ensuring that peacekeepers have the necessary capacities and capabilities as well as support to meet with increased speed and nimbleness the demands of increasingly complex operations; and third, enhancing the UN’s ability when it comes to the protection of civilians.

Madam Chair,

  1. We feel strongly about all three of these points, but the first, collaboration with regional organizations, of course hits particularly close to home for us. The EU and its Member States have been staunch supporters of UN peacekeeping from day one and will continue to be – aside from our substantial direct contribution, our roughly two dozen civilian and military EU operations over the past decade have often buttressed UN operations and have always been dedicated to the goals enshrined in the UN Charter. Last year, both the UN and the EU laid the foundations for an ever closer cooperation on peacekeeping. The UN opened a DKPO/DFS/DPA liaison office inBrussels, an office which has already proven its worth. The EU, for its part, opened a process aimed at enhancing support to UN peacekeeping through the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy. In close consultation with the Secretariat, we are currently looking at how to implement for example the following actions: incorporating an EU component in a UN operation and providing joint UN-EU assistance to the African Union. Of course, we cannot talk about the importance of collaboration between the UN and regional organizations without paying tribute to the African Union and without emphasizing that the AU can continue to count on our financial backing – since 2004, the EU has invested almost a billion dollars in, among other things, the African Union’s peace and security architecture and its peace support operations.

 Madam Chair, 

  1. The second peacekeeping challenge the Secretary-General identified for the coming period is ensuring that peacekeepers have the necessary capacities and capabilities as well as support to meet with increased speed and nimbleness the demands of increasingly complex operations. We continue to support the Secretariat’s ongoing effort to put in place a comprehensive capability-driven approach to peacekeeping, including the necessary incentives for Member States and individual peacekeepers.
  1. A crucial part of that effort is the development of capability standards – we welcome the progress achieved here and look forward to the consideration and validation of these standards during the next C34 session.
  1. What cannot wait until then is a solution to the shortfall of military helicopters – an especially acute problem where the area of operations is vast and the infrastructure limited. The urgency of the matter at hand calls for the consideration of pragmatic, innovative and swift measures, including through private sector initiatives. In the meantime, intermission cooperation, successfully put into practice last year, could serve as an interim solution. 
  1. The helicopter was invented in the early 20th century and while peacekeepers badly need such aircraft, they could also use technology of more recent date. Too often, the new generation of peacekeeping operations still relies on old-generation tools. For example, too many lives of both civilians and peacekeepers themselves have already been lost because of the lack of modern monitoring and surveillance technologies and the resulting lack of situational awareness in some of the most dangerous spots in the world – the EU therefore strongly advocates equipping peacekeepers with these technologies.

Madam Chair, 

  1. Providing peacekeepers with additional training tailored to their specific mission will also enhance their ability to perform and will allow them to hit the ground running upon deployment. Troop- and police-contributing countries and the Secretariat both bear the responsibility of readying peacekeepers for what awaits them in the field.
  1. Subsequently, we all bear the responsibility of taking their field experiences seriously and taking them into account during our conference room discussions on policy. Many such experiences are recorded in the Secretariat’s report with regard to deterrence, the use of force and operational readiness – a report that contains important lessons about self-defence and defence of the mandate and that merits both attention and action. 

Madam Chair, 

  1. On civilian capacities, the comprehensive review could right now and in the future contribute to a more integrated and coherent UN in the field. It could do so by ensuring that the UN is able to integrate the right civilian experts into peacekeeping missions, at the right times.

 Madam Chair, 

  1. Even with the right capabilities and capacities in place, no successful mission is an island. Every mission needs proper field support in order to function. DFS has made headway here with its Global Field Support Strategy, which we continue to support. The Regional Service Centre in Entebbe has had an immediate impact, we read. Nevertheless, before we consider adding additional regional service centres, we would need a more detailed analysis of their anticipated costs and benefits.
  1. In these times of austerity, we need to make the most out of each peacekeeping dollar. The Global Field Support Strategy is a step in the right direction, but only a first step. In all of UN peacekeeping, we need to embrace the cultural shift necessary to build on the Secretary-General’s vision of “doing more with less”. We are happy that, aside from the Fifth Committee, the issue of troop cost has also found a home in the Secretary-General’s Senior Advisory Group, the establishment of which we welcome and the results of which we look forward to. 

Madam Chair, 

  1. Doing more with less is inevitable, because austerity will be with us for the foreseeable future and the complexity of peacekeeping is here to stay, placing higher demands on the missions. A prime example of this added complexity: peacebuilding by peacekeepers. Looking forward to hearing the PBC Chair’s perspective in a few days, we commend DPKO and DFS for their recent paper on the role of peacekeepers in early peacebuilding. Their role is critical, but needs to be clearly defined in mission mandates and needs to include close coordination and cooperation with the relevant partners inside and outside the UN country team. At all times, national actors should be in the lead, including, at all levels, women. 

Madam Chair,

  1. With International Women’s Day around the corner, this is a good moment to encourage DPKO and DFS to conclude their five-year forward-looking strategy on women, peace and security. Before the ink dries on this strategy aimed at the implementation of Council resolution 1325, work should commence to put in place action plans for the missions and accountability structures for their leadership. “It is now more dangerous to be a woman than to be a soldier in modern wars” – this is what former Deputy Force Commander of MONUC Patrick Cammaert has said about war-time violence against women, in particular sexual violence. We call on DPKO to spare no effort to help put into practice the monitoring, analysis and reporting arrangements on sexual violence, including the deployment of women protection advisers. We ask that this be done in close cooperation with all relevant UN actors, including the SRSGs on Sexual Violence in Conflict and on Children and Armed Conflict. Of course we hold our own blue helmets and berets to the highest standards – in that context, the EU thanks the Secretariat for all its efforts aimed at enhancing compliance with conduct and discipline standards. We the Member States also need to step up to the plate and do a better job of reporting back to the UN on disciplinary actions taken.   

Madam Chair, 

  1. This brings me to the third and last peacekeeping challenge the Secretary-General formulated: enhancing the UN’s ability when it comes to the protection of civilians. Thanks to what we collectively accomplished in these conference rooms, we are beyond the conceptual stage here. Now it’s about further improving the way PoC mandates are implemented, building on what some of the missions have already been doing. As the scenario-based training package is rolled out and as relevant missions translate the Strategic Framework into action on the ground, we continue to advocate for establishing benchmarks to measure performance and for further developing early-warning tools.
  1. In the long run, strengthening host state capacity and the rule of law are the best way to help promote the protection of civilians. After all, peacekeeping missions are not permanent missions, they leave – besides, the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians lies with national states. We should enable states to discharge that responsibility by building up their capacity and at the same time prepare for the eventuality of irresponsible and unwilling states by building in checks and balances. When the rule of law is strong enough, civilians don’t have to depend on the benevolence of their rulers or on Security Council resolutions – it is the law that will protect them. We ask DPKO to explore how it can optimize its contribution to strengthening host state capacity and we welcome the Secretary-General’s efforts to optimize the UN system’s impact on the rule of law by spelling out roles and responsibilities.

 Madam Chair, 

  1. Let me conclude. Nobody needs to spell out our own roles and responsibilities over the next few weeks – we know them all to well. If we pull together, we can pull it off – a report that is both consensual and operational. The harmony and pragmatism that pervaded our recent discussions on working methods reform bode well for this C34 – a process that should continue to move forward under the able leadership of Canada and Morocco. For now, let me express the hope that during the current session we will be able to focus on the mission at hand and work together, just like our peacekeepers do in the field. Thank you.

* Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

+ Iceland continues to be a member of the EFTA and of the European Economic Area.


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