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Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations

Encouraging delegates to ask “tough questions”, he said they must consider if the international community is investing enough in predeployment training and capacity-building.  It is also vital to ensure the safety and security of the blue helmets in complex environments, he said, stressing the need to break the invisible barriers to women’s participation and leadership.  How the Special Committee considers these important questions will determine whether peacekeeping forces are ready for the emergencies of tomorrow.  Looking forward to the Secretary-General’s elaboration of the New Agenda for Peace, he highlighted the Special Committee’s responsibility and asked its members to set aside differences as much as possible and build upon areas of common understanding, keeping in mind the more than 87,000 men and women proudly serving the cause of peace. NAME TO COME (Djibouti), speaking on behalf of the Group of French-speaking Ambassadors, emphasized that effective international action on the ground can only be achieved if the Organization fully takes into account local contexts and harmoniously matches the skills, language and intercultural abilities of deployed personnel with areas of intervention.  The peace operations landscape is changing with new threats increasing operational difficulties for peacekeepers who are struggling with the aggression of armed groups and the hostility and anger of populations eager to reap the benefits of peace missions, he pointed out.  Trust can naturally be created between peacekeepers and local populations through language — through understanding host communities and practices that are respectful of local cultural codes. NAME TO COME (Morocco), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that bloc accounts for nearly 90 per cent of United Nations uniformed peacekeeping personnel deployed on the ground.  He expressed concern over the increasingly challenging operational environment marked by growing malicious attacks against personnel, including the use of improvised explosive devices and risks arising from disinformation and misinformation campaigns.  Calling for reinforced action to end impunity for crimes against peacekeepers, he urged the Secretariat and host countries to work together to ensure prompt investigation and effective prosecution of perpetrators.  He further emphasized the need for adequate and reliable medical facilities, reiterating the call to Member States to fulfil their financial contribution in full, on time and without conditions, urging the Secretariat to settle any outstanding reimbursements to troop- and police-contributing countries, given their continued sacrifices. Note:  A complete summary of today’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations will be made available after their conclusion. Urging the Security Council to draft clear, focused and realistic mandates in consultation with host States and troop- and police-contributing countries, he stressed that peacekeeping operations should neither be used as a substitute for addressing the root causes of conflict nor manage the conflicts themselves.  Exit strategies should be agreed upon at the early stages of mission planning and reviewed periodically, while peacekeeping operations must ensure that they leave a long-standing positive legacy and limit their environmental footprint.  Reiterating a call for more equitable geographical representation in leadership positions — both in peacekeeping operations and at United Nations Headquarters, he expressed regret that the Special Committee was unable to adopt a substantive report at the previous session. MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, speaking on behalf of the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, pointed out that the Special Committee has remained steadfast to United Nations peacekeeping over the years by providing a high level of support to colleagues in the field and to the peoples of the countries where peacekeepers serve.  Since adopting a new report structure in 2020 which is anchored on the Action for Peacekeeping Declaration of Shared Commitments, it has achieved much in improving peacekeeping, which remains a unique multilateral instrument even in a time of increasing geopolitical divides.  This year’s substantive session provides another opportunity to further advance those commitments, as well as the Action for Peacekeeping Plus (A4P+) initiative, she said, noting that:  “We look to this Special Committee to deliver the kind of substantive and concrete guidance that strengthens our ability to fulfil our mandates.”  She then voiced her hope that the Committee will maintain the same spirit of collaboration compromise and consensus that has made it successful in the past to inspire the search for consensus. CSABA KŐRÖSI (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, highlighting the immense sacrifice of all peacekeepers who paid the ultimate price, said that peacekeeping is international solidarity in its truest form.  Peacekeepers are the most human face of the United Nations work, he said, adding that they embody crisis management and transformation on the ground.  “They go where no one is wishing to go,” he pointed out, noting that not a single month passes without an attack on a blue helmet.  Highlighting the seven decades of peacekeeping work in supporting political processes, protecting civilians and promoting human rights, he said:  “If this history has taught us anything, it is that we have the capacity to adopt and innovate.”  The Action Plan for Peacekeeping initiative and its implementation strategy are two prime examples, he said, calling on delegates to take stock of where peacekeeping is headed and change course where needed. Statements Opening Remarks NAME TO COME (Uruguay), speaking also for Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, reaffirmed his group’s willingness to work constructively in the negotiations for the adoption of a substantive report.  The fact that the Committee was unable to agree on a report last year must heighten its sense of responsibility and commitment towards the personnel on the field, he said, stressing that the framework within which peacekeeping operations must continue to be carried out is international law and the Charter of the United Nations, in particular respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and non-intervention in the internal affairs of States.  Noting that his group’s members are signatories to the Declaration of Shared Commitments of the A4P, he described that document as a useful compass to look into the areas of peacekeeping that require particular attention from Member States, and expressed support for the A4P+ priorities, including collective coherence behind a political strategy. To address emerging challenges, such as disinformation campaigns, he urged the United Nations to remain engaged in preventing fragile peace from being jeopardized.  Multilingualism can be an asset in this context, as well, he said, calling on the Department of Peace Operations and the Department of Operational Support to continue its full integration into peacekeeping efforts.  As the largest peacekeeping operations are in French-speaking areas, being able to interact in French when it is the language of local authorities and populations is essential for promoting mission trust and acceptance while facilitating a better understanding of local realities with a view to sustaining peace.  Similarly, it is important to translate all training manuals and documents governing peacekeeping procedures into the applicable local language.  While the Group is aware of the challenges the Secretariat is facing in terms of resources, he stressed that such constraints must not hinder equality and parity between the Organization’s languages. NAME TO COME (Australia), speaking also for Canada and New Zealand, called for a greater focus on innovation.  Peace operations are already benefiting from more diverse and inclusive leadership, he said, highlighting the need for greater integration of technology, data and a gender perspective. Underscoring the Special Committee’s role in shaping the future policy direction of peacekeeping, he expressed disappointment that it did not adopt a substantive report last year. “Our top priority is to support a consensus-based outcome this year,” he stressed.  The focus on gender equity must go beyond numbers alone, he said, noting that the data on women’s participation shows important gains.  Women now comprise 8 per cent of uniformed personnel and over 20 per cent of staff officers.  But, there’s still a long way to go to reach the critical threshold, he said, expressing support for the removal of barriers to recruitment, selection and deployment of uniformed women. Pointing to the importance of protecting civilians, he said that, when failures occur, the United Nations must be able to investigate and transparently report on such incidents and bring perpetrators to account.  “We can’t afford to treat technology and innovation as optional,” he said, adding that those who pose a threat to blue helmets are already harnessing sophisticated low-cost technology to disrupt operations and spread disinformation.  Expressing concern about the prevalence of sexual exploitation and abuse in field missions, despite major reforms, he also called for continued spotlight on peacekeeping transitions and drawdowns.  Acknowledging the significant gap between the demand for peacebuilding support and the current crisis in peacebuilding funding, he expressed support for adequate, predictable and sustainable peacebuilding financing. He urged the Secretariat to ensure the timely reimbursement to troop- and police-contributing States, and for States to fulfil their financial obligations in full, on time and without preconditions.  He attached great importance to ensuring the safety of peacekeepers, which can be greatly improved through better preparedness, training and better equipment.  He urged the Secretariat to improve medical facilities and evacuation capacities in all missions, condemning malicious and hostile acts against peacekeepers, and urging host States to investigate those crimes swiftly and bring the perpetrators to justice. NAME TO COME (Indonesia), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted it has nearly 5,000 personnel — 9 per cent of them women — serving in various peacekeeping missions.  However, he expressed regret that, last year, the Special Committee was unable to produce a substantive report, which should not happen again.  He stressed the importance of partnerships between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, as collaboration in training and capacity-building must be expanded and improved.  Peacekeeping missions require adequate support and resources to carry out their mandates effectively, as personnel cannot be expected to do more with insufficient resources. RICHARD ARBEITER (Canada), serving as Chair of the Working Group of the Whole on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations for the fifth year, expressed his appreciation to Committee members for their close and constructive engagement.  Over several months in late 2022, they all helped to prepare for the current substantive session by participating in 16 informal briefings which were facilitated by the Secretariat and held both in-person and virtually.  More than 70 people participated in the workshop in November 2022 and over 30 delegates in the field trip to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the largest group to date.  “It is clear from all of this interaction that there is a deep and collective commitment to having a successful collaboration across the Committee this year,” he said before voicing his delight that the Committee will be conducting its work in-person this session after two years of virtual meetings.  This will provide an environment for an inclusive and collaborative approach, he emphasized. Stressing the need to invest in prevention and peacebuilding as well as promoting constructive cooperation with regional organizations, he said his group will also promote the implementation of Council resolution 1325 (2000) and others that foster women’s full participation in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, as well as Council resolution 2668 (2022) on mental health and psychosocial support for peace operations.  Highlighting the need for effective implementation of strategic communications within the framework of peace operations, he said it is vital to fight misinformation, disinformation and hate speech that adversely affect the activities of missions and put the lives of peacekeepers in danger.  Expressing concern about the increase in fatalities in recent years, due to malicious acts against peacekeeping personnel, he noted that improvised explosive devices are responsible for almost 50 per cent of these losses.


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