Thank you Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to appear before the Fourth Committee today. The United States would like to present its thoughts on the way forward for strengthening current and future United Nations peacekeeping operations. We thank Under-Secretaries-General LeRoy and Malcorra for their proposals and recent briefings.
The United States fully endorses the call for a strengthened partnership among the members of the Security Council, troop and police contributors, and the Secretariat. While we all have distinct mandates and roles to play, our mutual efforts will not bear fruit unless we work together. This is indeed a partnership, as underlined by the non-paper the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support circulated last July (“A New Partnership Agenda: Charting a New Horizon for UN Peacekeeping”).
We especially seek to forge a stronger partnership with and among troop and police contributors to UN peacekeeping operations. Their insights and experiences are invaluable. The Security Council committed to strengthening consultations with troop and police contributors in its August 5 Presidential Statement.
We pursued this new approach in deliberations on the mandates of UNMIL and MINUSTAH, and we look forward to serious and early discussions with troop and police contributors on MONUC’s mandate, which expires in December.
To express the thanks of the United States for their contributions and sacrifices, as well as to better understand the challenges they face, President Obama took the unprecedented step of convening a meeting with the leaders of top troop and police contributing countries to UN peacekeeping operations in New York on September 23. We have heard their concerns and share many of them.
The United States believes there are several key challenges facing UN peacekeeping and I would like to raise several of them today:
• First, a number of peacekeeping missions are operating in the midst of faltering peace processes, requiring intensified diplomatic and political support. Peacekeeping operations must be accompanied by –and not substitute for—critical peace-making efforts;
• Second, peacekeeping mandates and means must be better aligned. Missions face critical shortfalls, including lack of well-trained and well-equipped troops, police, and hospitals, engineers, transport and aviation units.
• Training must be expanded, and UN efforts intensified to provide peacekeeping forces with the supplies and logistics support they need;
• Third, missions must be adequately staffed and resourced to effectively carry out mandates to protect civilians from physical violence, including sexual and gender-based violence. The protection of civilians is one of the most important and difficult tasks UN peacekeepers are asked to undertake, and often the measure by which their success is judged, particularly by local populations;
• Fourth, UN mission planning and support arrangements must be improved to reduce deployment delays, be more responsive to peacekeepers’ needs on the ground, and ensure cost-effectiveness and efficiencies;
• Fifth, more attention must be given to the peace-building and development priorities, which should accompany the peacekeeping work, particularly in reform of the criminal justice and security sectors. If we do not help to build local capacity to deliver basic services, repair infrastructure, jump-start the economy, secure territory and uphold rule of law, international peacekeepers will be unable to complete their missions and depart. Having departed short of these needs being addressed, they will again have to return.
• Finally, mission strategies must have the flexibility to adapt to realities on the ground, and should be geared to securing and retaining the support of the host population in carrying out its mandate.
Mr. Chairman, the United States is prepared to do its part to address these challenges, including by: intensifying efforts to revive flagging peace processes; helping the UN to mobilize critical assets for peacekeeping missions; devoting more attention to peace-building activities; and meeting our financial obligations.
We look forward to working with all Member States on the challenges UN peacekeeping faces. The forthcoming session of the C-34 offers an excellent opportunity to make progress. We support the call of Under-Secretaries General Leroy and Malcorra for priority attention to the specialized military and police capabilities, operational standards, practical guidance and training, field support arrangements and oversight mechanisms needed to successfully carry out the essential tasks demanded of modern UN peacekeeping. These tasks currently often include protection of civilians, ‘robust peacekeeping’ and peace-building. It is important to build a shared understanding among Member States and the Secretariat of what is meant by these terms and what is required to effectively “operationalize” them in peacekeeping contexts.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, UN peacekeeping personnel – military, police and civilians—face great risks as they carry out the tasks we ask of them. We owe them the support they need to do their jobs. As Under-Secretary-General LeRoy mentioned in his briefing, 86 UN peacekeepers have lost their lives in 2009 alone. We express our condolences to their families and governments.
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
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