United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Technology and Peacekeeping- Security Council, 8837th Meeting; 2) United Nations Peacekeeping Operations- Security Council, 8838th Meeting

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18-Aug-2021 02:08:34
Adopting resolution 2589 (2021), Security Council calls on governments to protect peacekeepers, requests creation of online database cataloguing attacks. Harness digital technology to protect peacekeepers, civilians, Security Council urges, adopting presidential statement.

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The Security Council today called upon Member States hosting or having hosted United Nations peacekeeping operations to take all appropriate measures to protect United Nations mission personnel, requesting the Secretary-General to establish a comprehensive online database of attacks against them.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2589 (2021), the 15-member organ called upon host States to promote accountability for the killing of — and all acts of violence against — United Nations peacekeeping personnel, while also recognizing the need to enhance support to help these countries address impunity.

Further, the Council called on host States to work with peacekeeping missions to enhance the safety and security of mission personnel, including in line with resolution 2518 (2020), and to take all necessary measures to investigate such acts, and arrest and prosecute perpetrators.

In seeking these measures, the Council requested the Secretary-General to include updates — in his reports and comprehensive annual briefing — on progress by Member States in the prevention, investigation and prosecution of crimes against peacekeepers, and measures undertaken to promote accountability within their domestic justice systems, consistent with applicable international obligations.

The Secretary-General was also asked to include updates on measures taken by the United Nations to follow up on cases and support the efforts of Member States towards facilitating accountability.

In particular, the Council requested the establishment, within the existing budget, of a comprehensive online database of crimes against United Nations peacekeepers, accessible to concerned Member States, including host States, troop- and police-contributing countries, and countries of nationality of civilian personnel. The tool would also include information on capacity-building assistance offered by the United Nations to Member States and progress they made in bringing to justice perpetrators of such crimes.

The meeting began at 10:04 a.m. and ended at 10:07 a.m.

The Security Council today encouraged the United Nations to make greater use of the rapidly expanding array of new technologies — including digital technology — to make its peacekeeping missions more effective in some of the world’s most complex political and security environments, as it held a ministerial-level open debate on the topic.

In a presidential statement (document S/PRST/2021/17) presented by India, Council President for August, the 15-member organ recognized that technology has the potential to act as a force multiplier by enhancing performance, saving resources, simplifying work processes and allowing peacekeeping missions to better understand the environments in which they operate. Emerging technologies can also support the safety and security of both peacekeepers and civilians by enabling early warning and response systems.

With peacekeepers facing asymmetrical and complex threats, including those posed by terrorist groups, technological tools must be leveraged to support greater situational awareness, the Council added. It encouraged troop- and police-contributing countries and field missions to support technologies which are driven by the practical needs of end users on the ground and in ways consistent with international human rights law.

Through the statement, the Council also took note of the Secretary-General’s ongoing efforts at the intersection of technology and peacekeeping, including the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative and the UNITE AWARE situational awareness platform, and welcomed Member States’ commitment to environmentally responsible solutions for United Nations peacekeeping operations, such as their increased use of renewable energy. It further encouraged the Secretary-General to keep working with Member States to explore technologies and best practices which can help improve the safety and security of peacekeepers and the protection of civilians, with a focus on solutions that are cost-effective and mission appropriate.

The presidential statement’s adoption and open debate came on the heels of the Council’s unanimous adoption of resolution 2589 (2021), through which members called upon Member States hosting or having hosted United Nations peacekeeping operations to take all appropriate measures to protect United Nations personnel. It also requested the Secretary-General to establish a comprehensive online database of attacks against peacekeepers. (See Press Release SC/14606.)

Opening the debate, Secretary-General António Guterres said the United Nations has adapted and innovated throughout its 75-year history. However, its peacekeeping architecture was conceived in an “analogue world” and the time has come for a shift in peacekeeping culture. “It is now essential that [peacekeeping] fully embraces the digital world in which we live, to improve the United Nations agility, anticipation and responsiveness to conflict, and to be able to address the challenges of today and tomorrow,” he said.

Outlining the core elements of his newly released Digital Transformation Strategy for United Nations Peacekeeping, which aims to embrace the opportunities offered by digital technologies, he went on to list several examples where peacekeeping missions are already deploying new technologies. They are being used to augment situational awareness in the Central African Republic, detect hate speech in Mali and monitor social media in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Calling for support in capacity-building, training, equipment provision and financial contributions to achieve the strategy’s vision, he added that the United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial Conference to be held in December in Seoul, Republic of Korea, is another opportunity to further the digital transformation process.

In the ensuing debate, ministers and representatives welcomed the new Digital Transformation Strategy and echoed the Secretary-General’s call for the deployment of leading-edge technology in the field. Several speakers proposed greater use of renewable energy to reduce the environmental footprint of peacekeeping operations in an era of climate change. Some raised concerns over privacy, while others emphasized that the use of any technology must respect international law, human rights and the sovereignty of countries hosting peacekeeping missions.

S. Jaishankar, Minister for External Affairs of India and Council President for August, said in his national capacity that twenty-first century peacekeeping must be anchored in a strong ecosystem of technology and innovation that can help missions adapt to changing conflict dynamics and take advantage of increased efficiencies. United Nations peacekeeping “simply cannot afford to cede the information advantage to those actors determined to undermine prospects for peace by using modern technology to aid their violent cause”, he stressed. Instead, the Organization should focus on operationally proven, cost-effective, widely available, reliable and field-serviceable technologies which also prioritize mobility and are environmentally friendly.

Eva-Maria Liimets, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia, welcomed the fact that modern technologies are increasingly being integrated into United Nations peacekeeping operations. She cautioned, however, that political, legal and financial frameworks must be put into place to enable the effective use of knowledge. She added that peacekeeping operations should not only employ the best technologies available, but also keep abreast of new technologies as they emerge.

Niger’s representative said the use of technology for peacekeeping is “absolutely indispensable” as a performance multiplier, particularly given constraints resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, peacekeepers must be provided with the technology they need, given how hostile forces are using sophisticated equipment for their own ends. “We must no longer delay, since we cannot win today’s battles using yesterday’s tools,” he stressed.

The representative of Kenya said that troop- and police-contributing countries should be encouraged to deploy with essential technological equipment, for which the United Nations should be ready to reimburse. Information collected through modern technology must only be used to protect the United Nations mandate, personnel and installations, and civilians of the host nation, he said, adding: “This Council should emphasize responsible use of technology by avoiding unnecessary deployments and strict adherence to the principles of impartiality and neutrality.”

Norway’s delegate joined other speakers in stressing that discussions on the use of technology must be integrated into all aspects of the peacekeeping planning process. In that regard, she highlighted the need to engage in partnership and cooperation — not only within the Organization and between member States, but also with those who develop new technologies, such as think tanks, the private sector, academia and non-governmental organizations.

The representative of China, noting that his country the largest troop-contributor among the Council’s five permanent members, emphasized that the use of new technology should respect the sovereignty and will of host countries and avoid interfering in internal affairs or harming national, public and information security. Troop- and police-contributing countries should provide timely reimbursement for equipment and personnel and more tailored trainings to peacekeepers, he said, pointing out that China has funded various projects to build “smart camps” and strengthening data-sharing, aimed at improving the safety of peacekeeping camps and enhancing the capacity of peacekeeping operations.

Also speaking today were representatives of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Viet Nam, Norway, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Russian Federation, Mexico and Ireland. The delegations of several non-Council members also contributed written statements to the debate.

The meeting began at 10:12 a.m. and ended at 11:45 a.m.
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