Thank you Mr. President. Let me express my appreciation to you Mr. President for organizing this important debate. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General and Undersecretaries-General Le Roy and Malcorra for their valuable insights; and Mr. Doss, Ms. Loej, and Mr. Schulenberg for providing their unique perspectives from the field. Over the last year the Council has devoted considerable attention to ways to strengthen U.N. peacekeeping. Today’s debate on transition and exit strategies will enhance this effort.
Mr. President, in numerous debates the Council has noted that with the growth in volume and complexity of peacekeeping operations, UN peacekeeping is under severe strain. We have also noted that we are placing multiple demands on a finite supply of well-equipped and trained troops and police. We must keep these factors in mind before renewing peacekeeping mandates or establishing new operations, especially where conditions on the ground are ill-suited to successful peacekeeping. But we must not forget why the Security Council establishes peacekeeping operations in the first place. UN peacekeeping saves lives and delivers real results.
Many countries are far more stable today because of past and current UN peacekeeping efforts. Sierra Leone and Burundi are both consolidating hard-won peace. Liberia is on a promising track, but we must stay the course. But we have also seen what can happen when we are too swift to terminate a mission, as in Timor-Leste. We must resist the temptation to withdraw peacekeepers prematurely, or to downsize or terminate missions on the basis of arbitrary time-lines and false readings of progress. Hard won progress can swiftly unravel if peacekeepers depart precipitously, without leaving behind the foundations for a sustainable peace.
In its Presidential Statement of August 2009, the Security Council recommitted itself to improving the overall performance of UN peacekeeping and to addressing the challenges it faces today. The measures outlined in this statement, and those in the draft statement before us today, provide us with tools to strengthen peacekeeping in the interest of helping countries make a swift transition to a durable peace.
I’d like to comment on a few of these measures today.
First, as other speakers have noted, at the outset we must develop credible and achievable mandates for peacekeeping operations. Mandates and means must be better aligned and we must be realistic about what we can achieve. We are improving our ability to measure progress through the use of benchmarks that are tailored to circumstances of each conflict, and reviewed periodically for their viability, but we can do better.
Second, it is important to work together to breathe new life into faltering peace processes in countries where peacekeeping operations are deployed. Peacekeeping must be accompanied by vigorous peacemaking efforts – it is not a substitute for them. International leverage may at times be needed to revive stalled negotiations, and we may wish to consider whether informal mechanisms – such as the Core Group for Timor Leste – have practices that can be helpfully applied to other situations.
Third, we need to help expand the pool of capable and willing troop and police forces, so bilateral programs that train and equip potential contributors are essential. The increased communication among troop and police-contributors, the Council, and the Secretariat has been helpful, but we should do better if we are to make informed decisions regarding future mandates and eventual drawdown.
Finally, it is critical that we do more do to build up post-government security sectors and rule of law institutions. The UN security sector reform team can play a useful role in serving as a focal point for technical support in this area. Other relevant peace-building activities should also be an essential element for any new mandate. Earlier and enhanced cooperation with the peace-building commission is also needed.
As Ms. Loej stated, one size does not fit all. And our peace-building strategies. just like our overall peacekeeping strategies, should be tailored to the needs of the country in question.
Mr. President, as we consider revising mandates or downsizing submissions we will have to augment others as we just did in Haiti. A few months ago, we had hoped that MINUSTAH would soon be in a position to begin successfully downsizing. Instead, MINUSTAH is now more important than ever, serving as a critical lifeline to millions of Haitians in desperate need.
Mr. President, let me underscore the United States continued support for UN peacekeeping, and let me express our deep gratitude for the contribution that UN peacekeepers make around the world.
Thank you Mr. President.
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