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Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations - Remarks to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34)

20 Mar 2019

Mr. Chair,

Distinguished delegates,

Thank you for this opportunity to brief the Special Committee on our priorities for taking forward Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) commitments in 2019. Since the Secretary-General launched Action for Peacekeeping almost a year ago today, it has become our core agenda for peacekeeping. At the opening of this session of the C-34, we briefed you on progress to date. Today, we will look forward to the remainder of 2019.

Berlin High Level Meeting on A4P

Ladies and gentlemen,

To advance A4P, in the first instance, we focused on what more we could do at this Headquarters to better strengthen and support our missions on the ground. Yet we reached the point where taking the next step required more in-depth and focused conversations with all of our missions’ leadership. This is why, from 18 to 19 February, our three departments convened a High-Level Meeting on A4P in Berlin. The meeting brought us together with almost all of our SRSGs and Heads of Missions to discuss what more we can do together to strengthen our operations. I would like to reiterate our thanks to Germany for supporting this meeting.

The meeting enabled us to go deeper in analyzing the challenges that our mission colleagues grapple with on a day-to-day basis. These include implementing complex mandates in dangerous environments; the sometimes complex relationships with host authorities; the need for stronger regional, national and local buy-in to advance political processes; threats to the safety and security of peacekeepers, and the difficulties of analyzing and having an impact on the environments in which they operate.

To address these issues, we reaffirmed that there is a need for decisive action on the part of all peacekeeping partners to deliver on their A4P commitments. We also discussed the priorities for A4P that we hope to advance within the year to demonstrate concrete and measurable results. Our time is brief, but I appreciate the opportunity to highlight a number of these to you.

A4P Priorities

Ladies and gentlemen,

Working to achieve political solutions must be at the center of all of our work, but achieving them in the complex contexts that we are deployed in requires comprehensive regional approaches. This is why we will continue to develop regional strategies, including for the Horn of Africa, Great Lakes, Sahel, Central Asia and, for the Middle East, a coordination strategy. We will also do more to improve our reporting to the Security Council.

In our missions, we must build off of and preserve the significant, but sometimes delicate progress we achieved so far. We will continue our efforts to implement the peace agreements in Mali and the Central African Republic. In South Sudan, UNMISS will remain a central advocate for all parties to adhere to the ceasefire. I am nonetheless mindful that there is only so much the UN can do to cement political progress. We cannot achieve lasting progress without our partners. I appeal to all of you to support the achievement of political solutions where we do not yet have them, and the implementation of peace agreements where we do.

Improving performance is at the heart of our collective effort. This renewed focus is having a positive effect across our peacekeeping missions. While we have made progress in reducing the deaths of our peacekeepers by violent acts, one death is one too many. This is why making even further progress implementing the Action Plan on the Security of UN Peacekeepers is one of our highest priorities, certainly one of my highest personal priorities and a top priority of the senior leadership of our missions, in particular our five, highest risk missions. (More specifically, this includes MINUSMA, MONUSCO, MINUSCA, UNMISS and UNAMID).

In line with this plan, this year we’re conducting even more mission-specific pre-deployment visits to ensure that qualified, well-trained and well-equipped personnel are deployed in compliance with Statement of Unit Requirements. We’re also producing and rolling out integrated in-mission training programmes. For the five high-risk missions, we’re instituting CASEVAC training, stress testing and conducting more crisis management exercises. In addition to each mission having their own Action Plan, as I can further attest from my conversations in Berlin, our missions are doing more to carry out robust and pro-active operations, where necessary and in line with their mandates. We will also be developing a clear and comprehensive procedure on caveats, as highlighted in the Declaration of Shared Commitments. But to make progress we strongly encourage T/PCCs to clearly communicate caveats and avoid any caveats which could have a detrimental impact on performance and mandate implementation.

While we’re placing significant effort and resources into strengthening performance, I recognize that we also need to objectively assess the progress we are making. In January, the Comprehensive Performance Assessment System (CPAS) was rolled out in UNFICYP, bring the total number of missions implementing it to 4, including MINUSCA, UNMISS and UNIFIL. In the coming year, we are also planning to roll it out to MONUSCO and MINUSMA.

Ladies and gentlemen,

There is only so much we can do without the requisite training, capabilities and equipment. With little more than a week left till the Peacekeeping Ministerial, I want to express my thanks to those Member States that have already communicated concrete pledges in response to the needs outlined in the Uniformed Capability Requirements paper. Many countries have indicated concrete training pledges, as well as capabilities to be put toward the most pressing needs, in particular in MINUSMA. But we still have gaps in key capabilities, and we rely on specialized bilateral training and capacity building support to maintain and enhance the skills of units that operate in high threat environments.

I want to underscore how important it is that peacekeeping receives the specialized capabilities that we requested. And I cannot stress enough how important it is that we receive significant pledges of female peacekeepers. I look forward to seeing even more pledges come in before next Friday.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Strengthening conduct and discipline remains one of our key priorities. We are encouraged to see that the number of allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse appears to be decreasing in peacekeeping. But we are also mindful that we must be vigilant in our prevention efforts, seek accountability whenever the Secretary-General’s zero tolerance policy has been violated and, more importantly, provide support and assistance to victims. We must continue to do so in strong partnership with Member States. My thanks to Jan Beagle who will brief you in greater detail on this year’s priorities for conduct and discipline, and I look forward to working with her to advance this very important agenda.

To advance the women, peace and security agenda within the year, we will provide more guidance to missions on how to promote the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in all stages of a peace process. To report more systematically on our missions’ progress implementing Security Council Resolution 1325, 9 of our missions (specifically MINUJUSTH, MINUSCA, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, UNAMID, UNFICYP, UNIFIL, UNMIK and UNMISS), will be tracking and reporting on 15 common indicators. We’re also working to do our part to increase the number of women in our peacekeeping operations. We are intensifying partnership opportunities to increase the number of women in national military services, developing a talent pipeline specifically for senior women military officers, and, as a system, we are looking at how we can make the environments within our missions more conducive to women in peacekeeping.

The meeting in Berlin made evident the dedication of our leadership and staff to do more to strengthen the protection of civilians. In Mali, for example, the mission will develop an integrated approach to protection with the UN Country Team. UNMISS will continue conducting a continuous review of its footprint across South Sudan to better allocate resources and ensure a strong protection posture. And MINUSCA will promote more robust mobile patrols and local dialogue efforts.

All that we do to strengthen peacekeeping requires the strongest of partnerships – both with Member States and regional organizations. This year, we will continue working to further strengthen our strategic partnership with the African Union (AU). In the Central African Republic, this partnership has enabled us to achieve very encouraging progress with the peace agreement; we will continue to work hand-in-hand to foster its implementation. More generally, in line with the signing on 6 December of a Joint Declaration on cooperation for peace operations by the Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, we are stepping up our efforts to enhance African capacities for peace operations. I would also like to emphasize the importance of partnerships between member states – TCC /PCCs and those who can support them to enhance and support their capabilities. This is an area we are dedicated to working on.

Peacekeeping Ministerial

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would also like to provide a few more details on this year’s Peacekeeping Ministerial meeting, which focuses on Uniformed Capabilities, Performance and Protection. With 109 registered delegations, most at Ministerial level, this will be the largest such meeting since this process began five years ago.

Further to my remarks on pledges, I would like to request that those delegations still considering their pledge, to please keep us informed about your planning. Please inform the Strategic Force Generation Cell about any pledge you are planning to announce at the Ministerial by this Friday 22 March.

The meeting this year is also linked to the ongoing effort to strengthen peacekeeping operations through the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative. We therefore ask you to consider including in your Head of Delegation’s statement an update on how your country is implementing its A4P commitments. My colleague and brother Atul will provide you with more details on the agenda.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you for the continued interest that you have shown in strengthening UN peacekeeping through Action for Peacekeeping. It is only by our collective effort that A4P can strengthen peacekeeping.

It would be remiss of me to close without saying a word on this year’s substantive session of the C34. I of course understand the difficulties that are being encountered in reaching consensus on the C34 report. I am appreciative of the hours of preparation, and the intensive and sometimes impassioned discussions that delegates engaged in with the interest of peacekeeping and peacekeepers in mind. As your discussions have shown on many substantive issues that are core to peacekeeping, your engagement in favor of peacekeeping remains strong. We will of course not lose hope for an eleventh-hour breakthrough on the report. I am nonetheless hopeful that over the course of the year, progress on implementing our A4P commitments will be made.

Thank you for your time.