8552nd Security Council Meeting: Peacekeeping Operations

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18-Jun-2019 02:29:53
Security Council members ask about civilian protection amid political shifts, as Darfur, Cyprus Mission Commanders brief on relations with host countries at 8552nd meeting.

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The Force Commanders of peacekeeping missions in Darfur and Cyprus briefed the Security Council today on their cooperation with host countries, focusing on civilian protection, improving personnel performance and navigating complex sociopolitical shifts — including those currently unfolding in Sudan.

Opening the discussion, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations underlined the importance of pushing for more women in United Nations operations, prioritizing mandated tasks, evaluating mission performance and systematically investigating alleged violations. The seventeenth annual Heads of Military Components Conference will likely take up issues related to the financing of peace operations — especially in Africa — which have been raised by many delegations.

The Force Commanders of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) then provided an update to Council members on relations with their respective host countries and took questions from delegates.

The Commander of UNAMID said host country Sudan has been experiencing difficult times since December 2018 when the “people’s revolution” led to the Government’s dissolution and former President Omar al-Bashir being deposed. Following his replacement by a Transition Military Council, negotiations for a handover to a civilian-led Government collapsed following events on 3 June. Noting that the situation has impacted the pillars of UNAMID’s work — namely the closure and handover of team sites for civilian use, the drawdown of the peacekeepers and exit by June 2020 — he said the Government nevertheless continues to pledge its support to the mission’s smooth exit. He also updated the Council on the protection of civilians and humanitarian personnel, mediation between the Government and the non-signatory armed movements and support for mediation of intercommunal conflict.

Several speakers pressed for details on how Sudan’s shifting sociopolitical situation will impact UNAMID’s operations and ultimate exit, with Germany’s delegate pointing out that the new authorities in Khartoum were recently responsible for 100 deaths — and that UNAMID’s drawdown had been decided in past “fair weather” conditions. Indeed, plans to pursue UNAMID’s drawdown appear to be on autopilot. Poland’s representative, meanwhile, asked about UNAMID’s suspended handover of displaced person camps to Sudan’s military, noting that those developments are taking shape against a backdrop of worsening violence.

The Commander of UNFICYP said that, since its 1964 inception, the mission has been mandated to prevent a recurrence of fighting between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Its efforts to liaise between the sides in the absence of any direct contact remain essential, she said, noting that UNFICYP maintains daily contact with the Opposing Forces to prevent escalation of tensions. While a 2017 strategic review led to more robust engagement, the mission’s authority in the buffer zone is regularly challenged and violations of the military status quo along the ceasefire line have been increasing.

She went on to answer questions about efforts to reduce tensions between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, and new challenges related to the arrival of refugees and undocumented migrants on the island. Responding to questions about performance from the representatives of the United States, the Russian Federation and other delegates, she said it remains her top priority and that all workforce plans are clearly articulated to the Force. There is a close feedback loop which is used to review performance and improve upon tactics, she added.

A broad discussion also emerged about the need to strengthen the relationship between peacekeeping operations and their host countries. France’s representative, for one, said cooperation — carried out in full respect for a host country’s sovereignty — is essential to ensuring that missions can accomplish their goals. Côte d’Ivoire’s representative shared his own country’s experience of hosting the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) from 2004 to 2017, emphasizing that mutual trust and close engagement on national reconciliation, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and combating human rights violations paved the way for lasting stability and led to the mission’s ultimate success.

Also speaking were representatives of the United Kingdom, Peru, China, Dominican Republic, South Africa, Indonesia, Equatorial Guinea, Belgium and Kuwait.

The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 12:33 p.m.

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