Remarks by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, during an Open Security Council Debate on Peacekeeping Operations, in the Security Council Chamber

Susan E. Rice
United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
August 5, 2009


Thank you, Mr. President for convening this very important session. I’d like also to thank very much Under Secretaries-General Le Roy and Malcorra and General Agwai for their very helpful briefings. And I want to join you Mr. President in expressing the fact that we are very honored by the presence of so many UN Force Commanders and chief Military observers. We are deeply grateful for your leadership and your sacrifice. And we also want to take this opportunity to thank again all of the troop contributing countries and police contributing countries for their valuable contributions.

As you may recall, the United States outlined its overall approach to challenges in UN peacekeeping on June 29 at this Council’s thematic debate on peacekeeping, convened by Turkey. So today, I would like to restrict myself to five brief points.

First, my government greatly appreciates the efforts that the United Kingdom and all fellow Council members have made on this Presidential Statement. It is the product of several months of increased attention to UN peacekeeping, which the UK and France helped generate in early 2009. Important discussions have also been held in the Security Council’s Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations and in the General Assembly’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, chaired by Japan and Nigeria respectively. Turkey and Canada have helped to advance the debate through initiatives and efforts of their own. And we thank these member states and again the many troop contributors and financial contributors, police contributors as well who were all involved in informing this Presidential Statement.

Adopting today’s Presidential Statement will improve peacekeeping operations’ chances of success, both now and in the future. In this statement, we have committed ourselves to providing missions with clear, credible, and achievable mandates. We have pledged to think carefully before establishing new missions that may lack the resources needed to get the job done or may have to operate in conditions ill-suited to success. We have resolved to resist the temptation to simply roll over mandates when they expire.

These are important steps. We have agreed to reflect seriously on the progress that has been made and the obstacles that remain to ensure that we can make any necessary adjustments. But as we have noted before, the United States will not support the arbitrary or abrupt downsizing or termination of missions.

Second, this Presidential Statement acknowledges that both the Security Council and the Secretariat must do a better job of consulting with troop- and police-contributing countries, especially when adopting new mandates or renewing old ones. The troop and police contributors bring a wealth of experience to these discussions, and they deserve to have their concerns heard and heeded. This is one of the most important messages we have taken away from discussions in the Council’s previous thematic debates, the Council’s Working Group on Peacekeeping Operations, and the General Assembly’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.

Third, the United States appreciates the efforts that the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support have made to advance the debate on the future of UN peacekeeping. Their recently issued non-paper, “A New Partnership Agenda,” rightly reminds us that we’re all in this together. While the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Secretariat, and individual member states each have distinct roles and responsibilities, success in peacekeeping depends on our collective unity of purpose and unity of effort. In this non-paper, one key partner, the Secretariat, is appealing for help to energize faltering peace processes, rally missing capabilities, meet local capacity-building and peace-building needs, consider new business models for mission planning and support, and to clarify such key concepts as “robust peacekeeping” and the protection of civilians.

Mr. President, as I have said before, the United States remains ready to do its part, and we will receive new ideas with an open mind. We look forward to in-depth discussions over the coming months on the proposals in the New Horizon non-paper and in the companion draft field-support strategy that was circulated this week. We are reviewing both documents with great interest and we’re ready to work closely with all involved to further develop their proposals. At the same time, we look to the Secretariat to do all it can to improve mission leadership and management, to strengthen personnel and procurement systems, to achieve economies and savings, to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, and to clarify the roles and responsibilities of UN actors at headquarters and in the field.

Fourth, the United States is ready to act on both the spirit and the letter of this Presidential Statement and the New Horizon non-paper. The mandates of UN Missions in Liberia, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo will come up for renewal over the next few months. We welcome early dialogue with troop and police contributors on these missions. We also welcome early recommendations from the Secretariat on actions that the Security Council and member states can take to increase the chances that mandates will be successfully implemented and that missions can be drawn down responsibly at the appropriate time.

And finally, while the United States will be appealing to all member states to do more for UN peacekeeping, we’re also asking more of ourselves. That includes, importantly, meeting our financial obligations. On that note, I was pleased to make the case for UN peacekeeping on Capitol Hill last week, while acknowledging its shortcomings and underscoring the U.S. commitment to strengthen the UN’s peacekeeping capacities. I was honored also to be able to thank the U.S. Congress for the funding it has recently appropriated. The United States is now in a position to clear all peacekeeping arrears accumulated from 2005 to 2008 and to meet our obligations in full for 2009—currently estimated at approximately $2.2 billion.

Mr. President, we remain ready to invest in UN peacekeeping, even in a time of economic crisis, because this truly global enterprise serves a shared interest and offers millions of people the prospect of a more secure, prosperous, and dignified future. We look forward to working closely with our fellow Council members and with all interested parties to forge an even stronger partnership. And we look forward to working together to make UN peacekeeping more effective in the 21st Century.

Thank you, Mr. President.


PRN: 2009/158