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Security Council: Peacekeeping Operations

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), Council President for September, spoke in his national capacity to highlight the difficulties faced by peacekeeping operations, including protests from host communities, the presence of mercenaries and the manipulation of information.  Against that backdrop, he welcomed United Nations adaptation efforts, and underscoring the critical need for host States to respect their obligations, said that any deviation from this principle ignores the Council’s authority, jeopardizes the safety and security of blue helmets and hinders the implementation of their mandates.  For its part, France allocated .7 million in 2022 to support the digital transformation of peacekeeping, efforts to counter misinformation and the fight against improvised explosive devices.  It has also worked to strengthen the language skills of troops and to encourage the participation of women in peacekeeping operations.  Adding that “the future of peacekeeping lies in strategic partnerships” — including with the African Union and the European Union — he pointed out that the latter bloc has deployed more than 5,000 personnel in peace operations and complements the actions of the United Nations and African Union in many theatres of crisis.AMIERA ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates) underscored that the Council must ensure that peace operations are resilient, effective and appropriately resourced so that they can fully implement their mandates.  Noting that the effectiveness of peacekeeping depends on the design of political processes that produce sustainable solutions, she called on the Council to refocus on such processes and “reject the tacit acceptance of managing — instead of resolving — conflict”.  As it is insufficient to delegate the support and facilitation of conflict resolution to peace missions, political processes must remain a priority for the Council.  To do otherwise creates gaps between reality and the expectations for peace operations, she said, also pointing out that delays in reaching a political solution breed frustration, resentment and erosion of trust that actors can exploit to advance “their own nefarious agendas”.  Adding that a tailored, dynamic approach to mandate design and mission resourcing could help build and sustain trust, she said that designing better mandates requires strengthened cooperation among the Council, troop-contributing countries and the Secretariat; between peacekeeping missions and host communities; and between these actors and regional organizations, especially in Africa. TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway), noting that the Action for Peacekeeping Plus is well designed to drive the reform process forward, voiced disappointment that the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations was not able to conclude a consensus report in 2022, as many important concrete recommendations were agreed upon.  Highlighting key reform priorities, she said that ensuring a coherent strategy in support of political solutions must be at the core of all peacekeeping.  Women must be included for peace to be sustainable.  Council members should do their part by putting aside their differences to support peace processes.  For missions to be effective, efforts must continue to strengthen strategic and operational integration among civilian staff, United Nations police and the military component.  All Member States must ensure that both women and men are available for recruitment to all peacekeeping functions at all levels.  Peacekeepers must be provided with the equipment needed to stay as safe as possible and to perform as expected.  The focus on strategic communication must be maintained, she said, underscoring that this is key to creating trust among local communities, and to counter the increasing challenge of mis- and disinformation and hate speech.  Her country will continue to contribute financially to the new Strategy for the Digital Transformation of United Nations Peacekeeping. Note:  A complete summary of this morning’s Security Council meeting will be made available on Wednesday, 7 September. Statements Turning to peace operation’s responsibility vis a vis personnel and the need to ensure their safety and security, he said that, despite numerous efforts, the annual decrease in the number of losses of peacekeepers has reversed.  In 2021, the number of deaths due to malicious acts doubled compared with the previous year 2020, increasing from 13 to 25, and that trend is continuing, with 21 deaths due to malicious acts by the end of August 2022.  MINUSMA remains the most dangerous peacekeeping mission, but MINUSCA and MONUSCO are facing sustained threats.  The recommendations arising from the Secretary-General’s independent strategic review of United Nations peacekeeping response to that threat are currently being implemented.  Significant progress has been made in improving capabilities to counter improvised explosives in missions where that threat is evolving, he said, calling on Member States’ support to fully address those recommendations. RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India) said her country’s peacekeeping credentials need no elaboration and it has cumulatively deployed more than 260,000 troops and personnel over the past six decades.  India remains one of the largest troop and police contributors, now providing more than 5,700 Indian peacekeepers deployed in 9 out of 12 peacekeeping missions.  It is critical to reassess the Council’s approach towards peacekeeping, as well as the security and operational challenges faced by peace operations.  Peacekeeping missions must be given clear and realistic mandates, matched with adequate resources.  The Council needs to avoid terminologies and formulations when crafting mission mandates that may generate false hopes and expectations, she stressed.  Consulting troop-contributing countries should become a standard norm while crafting peacekeeping mandates.  In addition, peacekeeping missions should be deployed prudently, with full recognition of their limitations.  Effective mission communications strategy and coordination with a host Government can help address misinformation and disinformation against peacekeepers and enhance their safety and security.  The perpetrators of crimes against peacekeepers must be brought to justice, she said, adding that the Council needs to call on host nations to ensure the implementation of Council resolution 2589 (2021) to address the impunity of crimes against peacekeepers.  The role of women peacekeepers cannot be overemphasized in effective peacekeeping.  India deployed the first-ever all‑women peacekeeping contingent in Liberia in 2017.  The success of United Nations peacekeeping ultimately depends not just on weapons and equipment, but on the moral force that Council decisions command and the political process used to resolve conflicts. GENG SHUANG (China) said peacekeepers play an important role in maintaining peace around the world.  Yet, this world is in turbulence and there are destabilizing factors.  With these circumstances, the important role that peacekeeping missions play is being challenged and needs to be improved to better serve Member States and the international community.  There is a need to strengthen the overarching design of missions to maintain peace and security.  Peacekeeping mandates have grown and some have expanded into humanitarian and human rights areas.  Sometimes there are sanctions.  Some mandates emerge out of political correctness and may become tools of pressure.  The unchecked growth of mandates at times interferes and undermines the mutual trust between a mission and the community it serves.  In a presidential statement issued in August during China’s presidency, the Council recognized the need to step up capacity-building support to African countries in a comprehensive, inclusive, adaptive and targeted manner, with measures tailored to the specific conditions of each country and region.  It is necessary for the missions to build good relations with the countries concerned.  Missions should listen to the countries of concern.  Human rights issues have sometimes been a complicating issue for these countries, such in as Mali and South Sudan, he noted.  The United Nations should strengthen its communications with its States of concern.  It is also necessary to strengthen partnerships and mobilize stakeholders to advance the work of peacekeeping missions.  Regional organizations have helped play an important role.  It is necessary to ensure the safety of peacekeepers. JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom), underscoring the need to provide peacekeepers with the necessary training and equipment and improved threat awareness, said that his country trains thousands of peacekeepers each year.  Further, the United Kingdom, as a top contributor of extra-budgetary funds — donating more than .5 million in 2021 — supports key reforms in peacekeeping intelligence, situational awareness and tackling sexual exploitation and abuse.  Since 2020, United Kingdom peacekeepers in MINUSMA have demonstrated the value of new, proactive approaches to the protection of civilians, reconnaissance and civilian-military coordination.  He also pointed out that his country remains committed to advancing the participation of women through its support to the Senior Women Talent Pipeline and the Elsie Initiative Fund, to which it has contributed .5 million to date.  Noting the increasing threat posed by disinformation campaigns, numerous restrictions on freedom of movement and violations of status of forces agreements, he called on the United Nations to address rising levels of distrust through better strategic communication and on host Governments to uphold their responsibilities. VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said the number of secondary and non-specialized tasks given to peacekeepers must be reduced, particularly those in human rights, social and gender areas, noting that they distract them from implementing their primary functions and require significant funding.  As well, respect for the sovereignty of host States, strict compliance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and respect for the basic principles of peacekeeping — consent of parties, impartiality and non-use of force except in self-defence and protection of mandate — must be ensured.  Interpreting those principles flexibly, even under the most notable pretext, is unacceptable.  Peacekeepers must not be allowed to rattle sabres and become party to a conflict, he said, stressing that getting distracted by robust mandates could undermine the neutral status of Blue Helmets and transform them into active participants to a conflict.  To improve the safety and security of peacekeepers, their material and technical supply, as well as professional training, must also be improved.  In his country, at the Studies Centers of the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Internal Affairs, high-quality training is offered for Russian and foreign peacekeepers. MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) highlighted the efforts of United Nations peacekeeping operations that have “made a real difference” in more than a dozen countries, offering security guarantees, facilitating political transitions and helping to establish new State institutions.  However, in many other cases, United Nations peace efforts have fallen far short of expectations and the presence of peace operations coincides with an increase in chronic conflict.  Stressing that these reversals must lead to greater reflection amongst the international community, he urged updating the tools used to approach crisis and noted that Africa — which hosts the majority of peacekeeping operations — has never enjoyed a full, legitimate place at the table.  Calling on the United Nations to “reinvent itself” and provide answers that meet security challenges, he also stressed the need for the Council to ensure that peace operations are adapted to realities on the ground and account for the “regional narrative” in crisis zones.  He added that peace operations should:  have clear, credible and realistic mandates; have the consent of the host country; have legitimacy in the view of local populations; promote national ownership of the peace process; and provide for the constructive involvement of neighbouring countries and regional actors. JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) underscored that all stakeholders must fulfil their responsibilities in order to ensure the success of peacekeeping operations.  “All of us can play a part,” he stressed, in enhancing peacekeeper safety and effective mandate implementation by giving peacekeeping missions realistic, achievable mandates while also ensuring that such missions have the necessary resources and capacity to carry out their mandates in complex, fragile environments.  While adequate training and equipment is necessary in this regard, all United Nations personnel must also meet performance and conduct standards, and those who do not — especially in the context of sexual exploitation and abuse — must be held accountable, including by troop- and police-contributing countries.  However, noting that “accountability is a two-way street”, he stressed the need to “do everything possible” to improve the safety, security and well-being of peacekeepers.  All stakeholders must abide by status of forces agreements, and the cooperation of host nations is critical to ensuring that peacekeepers have full access and freedom of movement to achieve their mandated tasks safely and effectively.  Adding that disinformation leads to an erosion of trust between local populations and peacekeeping missions, he called on the Council to support integration of strategic communication into the efforts of such missions. On the women, peace and security agenda, he said the full, equal and meaningful participation of females in peacekeeping remains a priority.  Women now account for 21 per cent of military observers and staff officers, 31 per cent of individual officers, and 43 per cent of justice and corrections Government-provided personnel.  However, to address remaining gaps in uniformed gender parity, concerted efforts must be intensified to enhance the recruitment, training and career development of women in national security institutions.  To strengthen technology-enabled data-driven peacekeeping, the United Nations is implementing projects, including enhancing situational awareness to leveraging technology for uniformed peacekeepers.  He called for stronger and more unified support from the Council to advance the political efforts of peace operations, to assist when missions face undue restrictions and obstacles from parties to a conflict, and to make the recommendations of strategic reviews a reality. RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said that, for more than 70 years, United Nations peacekeeping operations have shown they can make a difference between the continuation of a conflict and its end.  Efforts to design a strategy to address the mental health needs of peacekeeping staff is essential.  Studies have shown that post-traumatic stress is significant among staff working in peacekeeping operations.  This impacts the Organization’s work and the health and well-being of the staff who put their lives on the line to provide peace.  Member States and the Council are obligated to address all aspects of peacekeepers’ challenges, whether physical or mental.  Greater visibility must be given to the mental health aspects of peacekeeping.  Better training is needed to quickly recognize the conditions that could impact the mental health of peacekeepers.  A culture of care must be promoted to ensure personnel are given the necessary psychosocial support.  He invited troop-contributing countries to participate in the Mexico Joint Peace Operations Centre.  He said that it is it very important for missions to play a role in stopping the trafficking of small arms and light weapons.  He pointed to Council resolution 2616 (2021), which lets the Council consider, during mandate renewals, the role peace operations could play in helping States to stem the flow of illicit weapons, in line with related arms embargoes. FERGAL TOMAS MYTHEN (Ireland), noting that the links between peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts must be enhanced, said his country led on the development and adoption of Council resolution 2594 (2021), which aims to ensure that as a United Nations peace operation draws down, it does so in a way that supports peacebuilding objectives and ensures that peace gains made are not lost.  The task for the Council now is to continue to support and implement the provisions of the resolution, he added.  Moreover, to be effective, peacekeeping operations must be agile, peacekeeping‑intelligence‑led, data driven and technologically enabled.  The development of the Strategy for the Digital Transformation of United Nations Peacekeeping is a key enabler in that regard, he said, adding that peacekeeping operations must be capable of addressing emerging threats, such as the weaponization of new technologies, misinformation, disinformation and hate speech.  As a State transformed by the digital revolution, his country supports the Strategy.  It has also taken on the role of an Action for Peacekeeping Initiative “Women, Peace and Security Champion” and developed a series of recommendations with members from across regional groupings. “We must do everything possible to preserve the space for United Nations peacekeeping operations, which continue to be a visible expression of an operating multilateral system on the ground,” he continued.  The international community must also maintain course towards supporting peacebuilding support in complex mission contexts, for example in Mali or Lebanon.  Noting that 11 of the 12 missions currently have integrated mission plans or results frameworks for the comprehensive performance assessment systems, he said most of those plans take into account gender considerations and the women, peace and security agenda.  Since the ministerial meeting on peacekeeping operations in Seoul in2021, the United Nations has made significant progress to be more proactive, agile and flexible.  This is seen inter alia with the strengthening of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), the reconfiguration of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the force adaptation plan of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), he said, calling for Member States’ support in filling critical gaps in capacity. Briefing He went on to say that the accountability of peacekeepers remains a critical priority, noting that a trust fund to support victims of sexual exploitation or abuse has established a project in South Sudan to offer psychosocial, medical and legal support.  The Secretariat will engage with Member States to discuss concrete commitments to resolve paternity recognition and child support for victims.  Moreover, the United Nations is making progress on developing confidential mechanisms to allow Member States easier access to information about allegations against their respective personnel.  Turning to strategic communications, he said support is needed more than ever in the surge of disinformation and misinformation, which impedes mandate delivery and threatens the safety of both the host community and the United Nations.  The Organization is proactively communicating on the tangible impact of peacekeeping in a compelling and human-centred way, harnessing the power of many platforms, including social media, and using United-Nations-Radio‑operated radio networks to provide news to remote and vulnerable populations.  It is also working to provide tools, guidance and training for missions, as well as working to fully integrate it into planning and decision-making. RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said peacekeeping operations are often the most visible aspect of the United Nations work in the world and a way in which its work is most directly felt.  It is also where real or perceived shortcomings can have immediate consequences.  Brazil has contributed police and troops to several missions and in the past 70 years has taken part in more than 50 of the 72 peacekeeping operations deployed so far.  More than 55,000 Brazilian military and police personnel have participated in missions in Africa, the Americas, Middle East and Africa.  Brazil fully supports the Action for Peacekeeping initiative and the priorities established for 2021-2023 as part of Action for Peacekeeping Plus.  Along with China, Indonesia and Rwanda, Brazil co-chairs the Group of Friends for the Protection and Safety of Peacekeepers.  Efficient peacekeeping needs effective communication with the local Government, civil society, the local population and other stakeholders.  During Brazil’s presidency in July, the Council held its first meeting on strategic communications in peacekeeping missions.  Strategic communications helps manage the expectations of the host Government and local communities.  The importance of effectively communicating with the local population has been shown by recent developments in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where protests against the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) have degenerated into violence against the blue helmets.  Strengthening international cooperation, investing in productive capacities and combating poverty and hunger are as essential to addressing conflict as security considerations, he concluded. BISMARK ANYANAH (Ghana) pointed out that, despite the inclusion of mandates for rapid intervention brigades in some missions — such as the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) — the structure and focus of present peacekeeping arrangements are inappropriate instruments for counter‑terrorism.  Further, peacekeeping mandates can be more concise and focused, and the Council should tap into partnership opportunities provided by regional arrangements, such as the African Union, in addressing threats to international peace and security to which peacekeeping missions are unable to respond.  While welcoming the implementation of the Integrated Peacekeeping Performance and Accountability Framework, he stressed that Member States must be involved in implementing the same.  He also emphasized the need to enhance predeployment training to counter the increasing threat of improvised explosive devices that are used by extremist groups against peacekeepers, spotlighting the high casualty rates in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).  He added that strategic communication must be deployed to counter the significant increase in misinformation that is negatively impacting the efforts of peacekeepers, shaping the conflict environment and influencing public opinion against most United Nations peacekeeping operations, especially on the African continent. JEAN-PIERRE LACROIX, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, briefed the 15-member organ in the context of Council resolution 2378 (2017) on progress and challenges in the implementation of the Action for Peacekeeping and the Action for Peacekeeping Plus initiatives.  Based on research and strategic reviews, he said his office decided to focus on seven priority areas in order to make tangible improvements to its impact.  Highlighting efforts and results thus far, he emphasized that collective efforts as individuals and Member States are required for success.  The environments in which peacekeepers are deployed are complex and difficult, with the modern world facing many overlapping crises.  “We face the largest number of violent conflicts since 1945 with growing geopolitical tensions and phenomena such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the destructive impact on climate change,” he said.  Amidst all that, United Nations peacekeepers remain on the front lines to prevent the escalation of the scourge of war, protect civilians, support ceasefires, participate in national capacity-building, promote human rights and help communities and countries together.  They are facing unprecedented risks, including being targeted by violent extremists. MICHAEL KIBOINO (Kenya) said the current peacekeeping environment is increasingly unpredictable, fluid and insecure, exposing peacekeepers to new and complex threats.  Yet, peacekeeping is a cardinal tool the United Nations can use to pursue the sustainable peace and protection of civilians.  One formidable challenge is the apparently increasing tensions between local populations and peacekeeping missions.  Peacekeeping missions must urgently win back the trust and confidence of host countries and local communities.  They can do this by listening keenly to the host countries and local communities and recalibrate their operations to respond to actual political and security dynamics, rather than the interests of external actors.  As a troop-contributing country, Kenya unreservedly supports the safety and security of peacekeepers.  Yet, this should not be at the expense of protecting civilians.  Every troop-contributing country must deploy properly trained peacekeepers, who fully understand the operating environment.  Kenya is working with other Member States, including Brazil, Germany, Japan and Switzerland, under the Triangular Partnership Project, to support peacekeeping through training peacekeepers in various areas.  For example, Kenya has offered training and mentorship in public administration, immigration, policing and civil aviation to more than 5,000 South Sudan civil servants.  Kenya has helped Burundi and Somalia rebuild institutions in governance and public service.  Kenya’s Humanitarian Peace Support School recently completed a training recognition process by the United Nations Integrated Training Services and United Nations Mine Action Service as a Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices Institution. FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the safety and security of peacekeepers must remain a priority, adding that continued and tailor-made training and capacity-building play a critical role in increasing their performance.  Each peacekeeper must be able to respond to the specific context in exercising their mandate.  Moreover, peacekeepers must embody the best ethical norms in implementing their mandate with professionalism and integrity.  He commended the Secretariat’s efforts in developing the performance standards and evaluation systems with the use of information and communications technology (ICT), so that concrete progress on mandate delivery can be easily tracked.  While progress on the cross-cutting issues, such as women, peace and security, human rights and climate change is encouraging, more must be done in having those issues strongly reflected in the mandate renewals as important aspects of the United Nations action on the ground.  Noting increased challenges faced by peacekeeping missions due to misinformation and disinformation, he underscored the significance of strategic communications for peacekeeping operations to build trust and support with host Governments and local communities, counter disinformation and misinformation, enhance the safety and security of peacekeepers, and strengthen their ability to implement their mandate.

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