Thank you, Mr. President, for organizing this very informative and useful debate. Let me also thank Undersecretary-General Le Roy for his introductory remarks and the force commanders for their briefings. I’d also like to commend General Obiakor for his service and wish him well in his future endeavors.
Mr. President, my delegation welcomes all the force commanders here today and on behalf of the United States, offers our deep appreciation for their service. We recognize the tremendous sacrifices they and their troops make; they deserve our full support.
In its Presidential Statement of August 2009 the Council recommitted itself to improving the overall performance of peacekeeping and to addressing the challenges it faces today.
First, we committed to providing peacekeeping operations with credible and achievable mandates. The United States believes that mandates and means must be better aligned and that we must be realistic about what we can achieve.
The Council committed to ensuring that missions have the resources and capabilities needed to effectively implement mandates. That’s why we must keep on our collective agenda the need to address chronic shortages of enabling capabilities, including transport, helicopter, engineering, and medical units. We also need to increase the pool of well-trained, well-equipped and highly disciplined troops and police available for peacekeeping operations.
Through the U.S. Global Peace Operations Initiative, the United States continues to provide training and equipment for potential peacekeepers. We stand ready to provide expertise as needed to enhance UN missions.
Further, there is ample scope for the UN Secretariat to improve the administrative and logistics support it provides to UN peacekeeping forces. We thus welcome the General Assembly’s recent positive response to key elements of the Global Field Support Strategy, which we hope will make early deployment and ongoing support faster and more efficient.
Second, in addition to addressing mandate and means, the United States believes it is vital to continue to improve the performance of UN peacekeeping missions. This Council is improving its ability to measure progress in the implementation of complex mandates, through the use of benchmarks tailored to each conflict and reviewed periodically for their viability, but we can do better.
Also, we believe it is essential to strengthen the body of guidance and training available to UN peacekeeping missions, particularly regarding when to use conciliatory or confrontational tactics in the face of threats to civilians or UN personnel, obstacles to freedom of movement, or direct challenges to the implementation of mandates. Civilian personnel also need enhanced guidance, training and support for the implementation of peacemaking and peacebuilding tasks central to successful exit strategies. We urge the Secretariat, member states, troop-contributing countries, and the Council to continue to work together toward these goals.
Third, we also made clear in our statement that peacekeeping operations must be accompanied by and not a substitute for critical peace-making and peace-building efforts. The United States has been and will continue engaging intensively on fragile peace processes where key UN peacekeeping missions are deployed. We are concurrently exploring ways to enhance our support to the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.
And fourth, we stressed the importance of ongoing institutional reform and of strengthening not only the UN’s but regional organizations’ capacity to plan, deploy, manage, evaluate and successfully complete peacekeeping operations.
Mr. President, the United States is committed to following through on these commitments and has made strengthening UN peacekeeping one of our top priorities at the United Nations. The insights of the force commanders here today are most helpful to us as we consider renewing mission mandates and establishing new missions. We ask for their continued leadership in employing all the tools and resources at their disposal to make their missions successful.
My government believes that success includes retaining the trust, respect and confidence of the host population in whose midst peacekeepers are deployed. The United States therefore welcomes the steps that the commanders have taken to address issues of conduct and discipline. We urge all commanders to be stalwart in carrying out the policy of zero tolerance for sexual exploitation and abuse. On a distinct but related note, we were gratified of the launch this week of guidelines for integrating a gender perspective into the work of the UN military in peacekeeping operations.
Generals, we thank you for your professionalism, dedication, and courage. We remain grateful that you have answered the call to protect the vulnerable and promote a more peaceful world.
If I may, Mr. President, I have a couple of specific questions.
One is to General Cruz of MINUSTAH. We remain concerned about the incidents of sexual and gender-based violence within IDP settlements. We were wondering what steps MINUSTAH could take to address this scourge further?
Also, to General Afzal of UNMIL, just a few points. Given the historic ties my country has with Liberia, we are particularly aware of UNMIL’s enormous contribution to Liberia’s stability. You mentioned the challenges posed by the upcoming elections, and as we prepare for discussion of the renewal of the Mission’s mandate in September, we would appreciate your perspective on any particular challenges you anticipate in supporting these elections.
Thank you Mr. President.
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