I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Iceland+ and Serbia*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
Let me first thank the Under-Secretary-General Ladsous and Under-Secretary-General Haq for their statements in the beginning of this session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.
Peacekeeping is the flagship activity of the United Nations and we need to ensure that it is given proper attention. The important work that all actors are doing in partnership is a tremendous effort which may not always be given due recognition. Recognizing the demanding conditions in which peacekeepers carry out their work, we are grateful for the sacrifices they make. I would also like to express our deep appreciation and respect for those who have lost their lives in the service of the UN.
The EU and its Member States consider it important to continue to address evolving challenges of peacekeeping in the C34. We must make sure that the Special Committee remains a functional forum and is able to produce relevant and meaningful strategic guidance on peacekeeping operations based on consensus.
This year, there has been an agreement between Member States to select a list of topics which will not be negotiated during the session. This course was chosen mainly due to the late finalization of last year’s report, adopted only in September. There has been regrettably little time for the Secretariat to implement the guidance given so late. We would therefore wish to thank the Secretariat for producing the SG report in a very fast time schedule, considering how late the C34 report itself was produced.
Taking into account last year’s timetable, we considered it was possible to choose fewer topics to be addressed and be able to focus on those ones in order to have more substantial discussion in a limited time. We hope that this year’s arrangement will facilitate the timely conclusion of negotiations and also enable a timely implementation of its recommendations.
This year’s arrangement does not prejudge anything in view of next year. Hoping for positive impact for this year’s negotiations, we will naturally assess this experiment afterwards and see how to approach C34 next year. We need to continue to improve the working methods.
In many ways, this may be a year of consolidation after some difficult sessions of past years. We need to keep in mind that there have been many challenging issues on the peacekeeping agenda and we have made progress. This progress needs to be consolidated and naturally continuously taken forward.
In the previous years, the troops cost issue has been dominating the discussion in C34.We welcome that the Senior Advisory Group on troop costs and related issues has been able to finalize its report. The report will be addressed in the 5C in March, and this issue should not be addressed during the session of C34.
In times of austerity, we need to focus on using existing capabilities in the most effective way possible, and on making sure that these capabilities can perform in an optimal way. We welcome the efforts of USG Ladsous and USG Haq in this sense, in particular the effort to “rightsize” the UN’s peacekeeping operations and to focus on performance, standards and targeted training to improve the quality in the field while assuring that the safety and security of peacekeepers remain a priority. We also commend the Secretariat’s effort towards the wider use of modern technologies in peacekeeping operations, also in particular in view of ensuring the safety and security of our peacekeepers.
Although we decided not to negotiate the sections on protection of civilians or children and peacekeeping this year, we fully support the continued strong focus on both topics. Theses are some of the crucial dimensions of peacekeeping today, and often decisive for the success and legitimacy of UN peacekeeping operations.
We need to focus further on the implementation of PoC mandates by the missions on the ground by making sure that both PoC training and necessary resources are further enhanced. Last week’s debate in the Security Council was a timely occasion to address the state of play and we welcome the Council’s request for an assessment of concrete measures taken by peacekeeping operations to implement the POC mandates, and the EU encourages making progress on the guidance on reporting for peacekeeping missions as requested in Resolution 1894. More needs to be done in order to translate the normative progress into concrete improvements on the ground.
The High Level Meeting on the rule of law last year once again highlighted the centrality of rule of law for peacekeeping. We commend the establishment of the Joint DPKO-UNDP Global Focal Point and the strengthened role of the field leadership in ensuring delivery of rule of law assistance. Properly implemented, these arrangements will allow improved coordination and avoid duplication of efforts. We also encourage on-going efforts to fully implement the Security Council Resolutions on women, peace and security, including concluding the forward-looking strategy of DPKO and DFS and strengthening the tools to prevent and respond to sexual violence. We welcome the UN’s resolve in preventing and combating sexual exploitation and abuse and emphasize the key role senior mission leadership plays in ensuring accountability.
As was emphasized in the recent debate in the Security Council, peacekeeping missions play an important role in peacebuilding and the continued work on the peacekeeping – peacebuilding nexus remains important. We also welcome the work on the UN Policy on transitions which demonstrates the close links between these different activities, with the aim of producing a positive outcome to post-crisis situations.
We strongly support the Civilian Capacity Review. Stronger civilian capacities allow for more targeted and successful peacekeeping operations, more sustainable transitions in partnership and with national ownership of host governments. We particularly welcome in this context the emphasis on South-South Cooperation which demonstrates well these core principles.
The EU and its Member States welcome the increased attention given to the role of regional organisations in peacekeeping. For its part, the European Union will continue to look for ways to enhance its support to UN peacekeeping, based on an Action Plan which we adopted last year. We were pleased to be able to provide timely and useful support for the rapid setting up of the UNSMIS operation in Syria, and we stand ready to act in similar ways in the future. Our dialogue and cooperation regarding Mali has been good and shows how we can find establish mutually supportive solutions. As some signs of our close relationship, the High Representative Ashton briefed the UNSC last week and also USG Ladsous was participating in the informal EU Defence Ministers meeting.
In looking forward to the negotiations, we need to ensure that the Special Committee continues to have a relevant role in addressing the peacekeeping agenda. I trust that we all have this interest in common and we look forward to constructive and substantial negotiations with our partners within C34.
* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland continues to be a member of EFTA and the European Economic Area.