20 October 2016, New York – Statement by H.E. Ms. Joanne Adamson, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the 71th Session of the UN General Assembly Fourth Committee 13th Meeting Agenda item 51 – Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects
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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Liechtenstein, members of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
I would like to warmly thank USG Ladsous and USG Khare 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.
Peacekeeping operations are a vital instrument in advancing peace and security in the world and remain a flagship activity of the United Nations. 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 United Nations.
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 is continuously adapting its response to ever changing and complex crises, 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 continue to identify and address these new challenges.
The 2015 peace and security reviews offered a great opportunity to shape the future of the global peace and security architecture. The HIPPO report called for four essential shifts that would allow the UN to position its peacekeeping operations to better respond to current and future challenges: ensuring the primacy of politics, a flexible use of the full spectrum of peace operations, stronger partnerships, as well as a field-focused UN Secretariat and people-centred peace operations. Other key highlights of the review process include the need for coherence, linking development and security efforts, mainstreaming gender aspects throughout, better and more clearly defined mandates and transition arrangements to name a few. The Secretary-General’s report in response of the HIPPO recommendations outlined his priorities in the implementation of the peace and security agenda around three pillars: renewed focus on prevention and mediation; stronger partnerships; and new ways of planning and conducting UN peacekeeping operations to make them faster, more responsive and more accountable. Over the years and in particular over the last two years, the EU and its Member States have made important contributions to the guidance of UN peacekeeping operations. We are ready to continue to contribute to ongoing discussions in the relevant committees and formats. Taking this important work forward will require a truly global partnership.
Even the most successful peace operations cannot substitute political processes. Prevention and mediation – making full use of the Secretary General’s good offices, the early deployment of UN SPMs, UN regional and bilateral peacebuilding and mediation tools and public diplomacy – must become a priority. It would show that the global system is intent on reducing armed conflict. Likewise, consolidating peacebuilding efforts must be on the agenda throughout and the peacebuilding agenda must be fully synchronised with peacekeeping efforts. Special attention should hence be devoted to strengthening the capacities in the field of security through SSR, in order to ensure sustainable peace and security. Wider sustaining peace activities need the means to be effective.
The protection of civilians and the prevention of atrocity crimes must be at the core of any peacekeeping operations’ mandate. We welcome the emphasis on a regular assessment of the mission’s political and protection effect, the extent to which the mission has the capabilities to fulfil its protection mandate and the additional political and practical support required.
The EU and its Member States attach great importance to the child protection and conflict-related sexual violence mandates and any changes in mission structures should not curtail their ability to effectively protect women and children in situations of armed conflict.
Crucially, the protected must not be harmed by those meant to protect them. We welcome the UNSG’s emphasis on increased accountability and his efforts to strengthen the system’s ability to deal with sexual exploitation and abuse swiftly and decisively.
Local ownership is an important factor in protecting civilians. We welcome the suggestion for mission wide strategies and guidance to engage with the local populations. Similarly, corruption should also be recognized as a driver of conflict and instability.
We are also committed to advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda, both internally and in relations with third countries. We welcome efforts to strengthen gender mainstreaming in mission settings, as well as the intention to reinforce the gender expertise in missions, as stated in Resolution 2242 (2015).
UN peace operations need to be equipped with clear, coherent and achievable mandates that include a strong human rights component. Transition arrangements (between different operations or distinct organisations) and exit strategies, should be explored early on. From an early stage, transition arrangements should take into account elements which will contribute to the assessment of the overall efficiency of the missions, once they will be terminated.
Adequate force generation remains a challenge to take into account in mission planning. There is a need for UN Member States, including EU Member States, to match political intent and operational might in order for peace operations to succeed. Our work forward should look into ways of facilitating force generation, especially in terms of enablers and others critically needed capabilities. The 2015 Peacekeeping Summit as well as the London ministerial conference have made an encouraging impact in that regard.
Related to training, we believe that the SG’s initiative to request adequate training certificates is a step in the right direction. Training and equipping mission personnel, before and during deployment, whether they belong to a military, police or civilian component, on the basis of consolidated standards is important in order to ensure mission success. This should include standardised gender-sensitive training and operational training on the issue of children and armed conflict. This is especially relevant in increasingly complex environments and could also be enhanced in cooperation with regional actors.
Adequate resources needed for peace operations should be ensured so that they can deliver on their mandated tasks. Operations should make the most efficient use of human, political and financial resources. In light of the complex and dangerous environments that missions are operating in, we underline the important role of information and intelligence for mandate delivery and personnel protection. We also need to encourage the use of modern technology in peacekeeping and make additional efforts to ensure the security of the UN peacekeepers. We support efforts by the UN to further develop these capacities for current and future missions.
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. These allow for burden sharing and support to the UN, notably in Mali, the Central African Republic, Somalia, and in the Balkans. In this vein, we welcome the increased focus on global-regional partnerships. The UN and the EU are deepening their cooperation on topics of mutual interest as part of our Strategic Partnership on Peacekeeping and Crisis Management for the period 2015 -2018. We also remain committed to give full support to Africa’s efforts to manage its own security. And we welcome initiatives aimed at strengthening peacekeeping such as the conference on peacekeeping in francophone environments, to be convened in Paris on Oct. 26-27.
We continue to advocate for a better definition of the role of regional organisations within UN-led interventions, facilitating – when appropriate – rapid deployment, acting as complementary to UN operations, or deployed in a bridging capacity.
The international community will continue to address many challenging issues on the peacekeeping agenda, and we have made important progress, including in the framework of the C-34. This progress needs to be consolidated and taken forward. The EU stands ready to continue 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.
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