Peacekeepers serve in the world’s most volatile environments, risking their own lives to protect others from catastrophic conflict and build durable peace.
The threats they face are greater than ever, with rising geopolitical tensions, more complex conflict, and the weaponization of digital tools against peacekeepers and the communities they serve. Missions are also being given ambitious mandates that are often beyond their capacity to deliver.
To meet the challenges of today and the future, 91 countries expressed their support for peacekeeping at the 2023 United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial held in Accra, Ghana. Fifty-seven Member States also announced new pledges to fill critical gaps and strengthen effectiveness in delivering mandated tasks, including preventing violence, protecting civilians, and building peace.
“The concrete pledges generated by this historic event will provide the cushion UN peace operations require to execute complex mandates in complicated environments,” said Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey.
Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix said the ultimate objective of peacekeeping is to help resolve conflict by supporting parties to secure and implement peace agreements and related political processes.
“Its success, in this regard, over its 75-year history should not be forgotten in the fog of war that continues to ravage the world’s most fragile nations and populations,” he said. “But peacekeeping is not a magic wand and cannot succeed alone. Securing sustainable peace requires the political will and active, united engagement of Member States.”
Delegates responded to the call for stronger political and operational support.
“United Nations Peacekeeping is at a crossroads. A surge in attacks, complex mandates, new conflicts, and old disputes mean that rising to this challenge requires a renewed commitment and robust partnerships, including among Member States,” said the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Shehryar Akbar Khan.
Representing China, General Qiling Xu, called for “true multilateralism” to address the challenges of a world undergoing “transformation and turmoil”. While Kenyan Cabinet Secretary, Aden Bare Duae, said missions need the resources and capabilities to deliver on mandates amidst “enormous and evolving” global security challenges.
Hungary’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Szijjarto, called for a greater role for the UN in making and keeping peace given increasing conflicts and threats to global peace.
“The United Nations is not designed as a group of like-minded countries, but as a platform for dialogue, even for those who might fundamentally disagree with each other. If we can improve UN peacekeeping capacity around the world, more armed conflicts will be under control, brought towards peaceful solutions, and the risk of a third world war will be defused.”
Thirty-three Member States also pledged over 110 new military and police units while 45 states pledged specialized trainings on critical issues such as peacekeeping intelligence, protection of civilians, gender responsive leadership and preventing sexual exploitation and abuse.
“Every peacekeeper must serve with honour, upholding our standards and the image and credibility of the entire UN. This is an essential requirement for acceptance by local communities and to effectively implement our mandates,” said Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance, Catherine Pollard. “The vast majority of our peacekeepers meet that responsibility. Unfortunately, the terrible actions of a small minority cast a shadow on the honourable work of so many, some of whom have given the ultimate sacrifice.”
Member States also pledged to improve environmental management and to strengthen the strategic communication capacity of UN Peacekeeping, including to address mis-disinformation.
In closing the event, Ghana’s Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, said the relationships formed and commitments made would not be transient. “They are seeds planted for a more peaceful and secure world, the harvest of which we will reap in the years ahead.”