8349th Security Council Meeting: United Nations Peacekeeping Operations

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12-Sep-2018 03:44:04
$7 billion-plus annual budget must achieve best possible value on ground, delegates stress, as Security Council considers peacekeeping reform at 8349th meeting.

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The more than $7 billion spent annually on United Nations peacekeeping operations must achieve its best possible value on the ground, speakers emphasized today, as the Security Council considered how best to improve mission performance and hold failures accountable.

“United Nations peacekeeping cannot succeed without the engagement and the mobilization of all stakeholders, and, first and foremost, the Member States,” said Jean‑Pierre Lacroix, Under‑Secretary‑General for Peacekeeping Operations, in his briefing to the 15‑member Council. “Strengthening peacekeeping often requires strengthening the capacities of those who provide its men and women — the troop- and police‑contributing countries.”

He noted that since the Council adopted a landmark resolution on peacekeeping reform a year ago, many efforts have been made, including the Secretary‑General’s reform of the United Nations peace and security architecture and his launch of the Action for Peacekeeping initiative in March. In addition, the Secretariat established a clear framework of performance standards and assessments based on regular evaluations of military units, he said, adding that when performance falls short, the Secretariat will commission independent, ad hoc investigations to clarify the causes and circumstances of serious shortfalls in mandate implementation.

Also briefing the Council was Sarah Blakemore, CEO of the non‑governmental organization Keeping Children Safe, who said that, while the vast majority of peacekeepers perform their duties with courage and professionalism, some have subjected people in situations of extreme physical and psychological vulnerability to rape, trafficking, violence and abuse. “A significant portion of the victims have been children,” she pointed out, emphasizing that the vast imbalance of power between peacekeeping personnel and the people they are sent to protect makes it essential to put robust safeguard systems in place.

In the ensuing debate, Council members as well as delegates from troop- and police‑contributing countries exchanged views on how to address many challenges facing peacekeeping missions. The representative of the United States, Council President for September, spoke in her national capacity, saying her delegation will introduce a new draft resolution aimed at creating accountability measures for performance failures and recognizing the role of data in improving troop performance. “Accountability is not a dirty word,” she pointed out, stressing that the Council owes it not only to victims of abuse, but also to peacekeepers, who deserve to know that their colleagues can be counted upon not to abuse their power.

The Russian Federation’s delegate, however, said that such business falls under the purview of the intergovernmental Committee of 34, formally known as the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. Stressing the need to “clean up” some mandates, he voiced his delegation’s concerns about the inclusion of human rights and humanitarian elements, and the potential use of peacekeepers in counter‑terrorism operations.

Côte d’Ivoire’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African members of the Council, emphasized that peacekeeping is not only about troop‑contributing countries, and reform efforts cannot, therefore, focus solely on them. It is a collective endeavour involving Member States, the Council, host countries, troop‑contributing countries, financial contributors and regional partners, he pointed out, adding that this is adequately captured in the Declaration of Shared Commitments on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations. He went on to emphasize that civilian and uniformed personnel cannot be expected to deliver on their mandated tasks without resources and capabilities matching their operational environment. “We cannot ask for more with less,” he stressed, adding that the Council is not immune to responsibility since it has not fully resolved the long‑standing problem of “Christmas tree mandates” — the product of Council members seeking the inclusion of favoured issues irrespective of their relevance or priority.

In similar vein, Pakistan’s delegate pointed out that national caveats hinder performance by giving one troop‑contributing country the leverage to refuse to perform in a given instance, thereby creating a disproportionate set of expectations. “A level playing field is a prerequisite for fair assessment of performance,” she stressed.

The United Kingdom’s representative said the United Nations must achieve “the best possible impact” on the ground, using its peacekeeping budget of more than $7 billion, while Peru’s delegate said that expenditure is “a tiny investment” compared with global military spending.

Also speaking today were representatives of Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Sweden, France, Poland, Netherlands, Bolivia, China, Rwanda, Canada, Senegal, Indonesia, Brazil, Bangladesh, Uruguay, Belgium, Romania and Fiji.

Also delivering statements were the Permanent Observer of the African Union and the Head of the European Union delegation.

The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 1:48 p.m.
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