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Summary: 28 October 2014, New York – European Union Statement by Ambassador Ioannis Vrailas, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly Fourth Committee on Agenda item 52 – Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects

– As delivered –

Mr Chair,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Iceland+, Serbia*and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this statement.

Let me first thank USG Ladsous and USG Haq for their briefings which gave us a valuable and comprehensive picture of the state of play. We are grateful for the work done by the Secretariat and we value the partnership between all actors involved. We look forward to the general debate here in the Fourth Committee, providing us with a good forum for an exchange of views with regards to the latest developments on the agenda.

Peacekeeping operations are a vital instrument in advancing peace and security in the world. I would like to recognise the demanding conditions in which peacekeepers carry out their work, and to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives in the service of the UN. I would like to recall that, as every year, the EU will be leading efforts to agree on the resolution concerning the safety and security of humanitarian personnel and the protection of UN personnel.

Peacekeeping, at the core of UN action, is in continuous evolution. As conflicts change, so do our means to respond to them. The international community has to adapt its response to ever changing crises that are complex, and increasingly involve a large number of non-state stakeholders. Today’s operations have moved on from the traditional military models of ceasefires observation to become more proactive and multidimensional operations – involving civilian and political aspects – that strive to promote stability in the aftermath of conflict.

Taking into account the changes in the nature of conflicts, as well as the increased complexity demanded of peacekeeping operations, the EU and its Member States consider it important to seek to identify and address the new challenges in peacekeeping. We welcome the announcement by the UN Secretary General of a review of peace operations as both timely and necessary. The European Union is prepared to contribute to this reflection.

Mr. Chair,

The EU and its Member States believe that any review of peacekeeping operations should be ambitious and should not limit itself to existing tools. We should all aim at achieving a model of peacekeeping which puts a strong focus on the protection of civilians.  Failures and shortcomings of the past must serve as lessons for the future. Peacekeeping operations need to be equipped with robust mandates that put protection of civilians at their core.

Prevention of atrocities begins with full respect for human rights. We reiterate our appreciation for the Secretary-General’s Rights up Front initiative as an important element of the organisation’s efforts to strengthen early warning and prevent atrocities against civilians. In cases where atrocity crimes were committed, accountability for these crimes is crucial to deter and prevent future atrocities. The EU is committed to assisting states to strengthen their national judicial systems to allow them to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of these crimes. The EU is also a steadfast supporter of the International Criminal Court. While the primary responsibility for bringing offenders to justice lies with States themselves the ICC should exercise its jurisdiction where national authorities are unable or unwilling to genuinely prosecute the most serious crimes.

Mr. Chair,

We need to increase efforts to mainstream gender aspects into Peacekeeping operations, starting by increasing the number of women peacekeepers. The EU and its Member States encourage on-going work to fully implement the Security Council Resolutions on women, peace and security, as well as integration of a gender perspective in the training of military, police and civilian staff in peacekeeping operations. 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.

When it comes to the assessment of peacekeeping operations, we must not only closely monitor their performance, but also link results to the decision-making process, and pursue greater flexibility and adaptability to developments in the field. With a new historical peak in sight for the peacekeeping budget, we need to ensure that resources are used effectively, efficiently and in an accountable and transparent manner.

Finally, we also need to encourage the use of modern technology in peacekeeping and make additional efforts to ensure the security of the UN peacekeepers. This year we have seen an exceptionally high number of casualties caused by deliberate attacks on UN troops. In addition to the security measures to prevent loss of life, further political reflection on this matter is needed.

Mr. Chair,

The EU remains a loyal partner in this endeavour, not only by supporting UN Peacekeeping operations, but also by deploying our own missions within the framework of our Common Security and Defence Policy. Let me mention the example of EUFOR CAR, in the Central African Republic, a EU bridging military operation currently preparing the transfer of military authority to the UN. Following a request by the UN Secretariat we have extended the EU mission until MINUSCA is fully operational.

Similar cases of cooperation should be encouraged in the future, not only with the EU, but also with other regional organisations. We believe that this type of partnerships will be increasingly important in Peacekeeping.

The European Union will continue to look for ways to enhance our support to UN Peacekeeping. In this vein, a series of seminars is taking place this year in New York and European capitals to explore and enhance EU-UN partnership in crisis management.

Mr Chair,

There have been many challenging issues on the peacekeeping agenda and we have made progress, including in the framework of the C-34. This progress needs to be consolidated and taken forward. We need to make sure that the Special Committee continues to produce relevant and meaningful strategic guidance on peacekeeping operations based on consensus and within the timelines set for its yearly activities. The EU stands ready to engage in this work constructively.

I thank you.

* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania 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.

  • Ref: EUUN14-168EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: Fourth Committee - Special Political and Decolonization Committee
  • Date: 28/10/2014

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