Statement by Ambassador David B. Dunn, United States Alternate Representative to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs, on Peacekeeping at the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations

Ambassador David B. Dunn
Acting U.S. Ambassador and Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
February 22, 2011


Madam Chair,

I am honored to address the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations on behalf of the United States. I congratulate you and Ambassador Rivard and the other members of the bureau on your election, and I thank DPKO and DFS for their comprehensive briefings. Ambassador Rice sincerely regrets that she was not able to be in New York today to address this session, as she very much wanted to do.

Distinguished delegates,

We have seen the vital and real importance of United Nations peacekeeping operations over the last year in protecting the world's peace and security. In southern Sudan, UNMIS has played an indispensible role in shepherding the peaceful birth of a newly independent nation, reflecting the will and aspirations of the people of Sudan. In Cote d'Ivoire, UNOCI is today at the center of the international community's united effort –working with key regional and sub-regional partners—to resolve the crisis precipitated by Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to accept the legitimate results of the elections that made Alassane Ouatarra president. In Haiti, MINUSTAH continues its great work to help move beyond the rubble to protect the peace and bolster the foundations for long-term governance and reconstruction. Each of these missions faced genuine tests and changing circumstances. We can rightly take pride in their perseverance and adaptability, and those of the other UN peacekeeping missions around the globe.

I would like to particularly thank and salute the troop- and police-contributing countries who have answered the call for their sons – and increasingly their daughters – to serve abroad under the United Nations flag in the cause of peace. We don't always do enough to acknowledge their service and sacrifices to prevent violence, support the rule of law and protect civilians from danger. I hope these brave men and women hear our applause and concern for their safety and well-being. I also hope that they serve with a strong sense of pride for the important contributions that they make every day, in the name of the United Nations.

Madam Chair,

The United States remains fully committed to the goal of strengthening UN peacekeeping. We recognize the major challenges in closing the gap between our aspirations and the conduct of missions in the field. We must be clear-eyed about the job ahead to match mandates and capacities, to institute reform and champion effectiveness, and for each country do its part for these missions to succeed. President Barack Obama, during his address to the General Assembly last September, said: "It’s time to reinvigorate U.N. peacekeeping, so that missions have the resources necessary to succeed, and so atrocities like sexual violence are prevented and justice is enforced -- because neither dignity nor democracy can thrive without basic security." President Obama's statement underlines that strengthening peacekeeping is a priority for the United States, building on the work that we have done together here at the United Nations in recent years. His statement also articulates what the United States sees as key tasks before us, which is to develop further the capabilities of UN peacekeepers to protect civilians from harm and deter sexual violence, to support the rule of law, and to operate with effective capacities and leadership. This approach also requires that peacekeepers have the political support of the member states, who must work in concert to back up the aims of our peacekeeping missions, through diplomatic and materiel support.

The United States is committed to doing its part. For example, we have directly trained over 120,000 peacekeeping troops since 2005, and supported the training of 35,000 more through partner countries. We have facilitated the deployment of more than 109,000 peacekeepers from 30 countries to 19 peacekeeping operations around the world. We have sustained our commitment to meet our obligations under the UN peacekeeping assessed budget, annually about $2 billion. We have made a substantial commitment -- $23 million over the last two U.S. fiscal years – to help enhance the operational capacity of police peacekeepers and to contribute to the development of UN doctrine, policy, and training on international policing.

Madam Chair,

We have done a lot of good work collectively over the last two years. Through the valuable contributions of this committee and the hard work of DPKO and DFS, we can see improvements in how UN peacekeeping is conducted, managed, led, and supported in the field. I think we have made important progress, for example in the New Horizon initiative, and in particular in fleshing out the Global Field Support Strategy. We welcome the steps taken to turn those important initiatives into operational realities. We welcome the work done in Brindisi and Entebbe to streamline and rationalize logistics support to field missions, and look forward to additional progress there. We welcome the progress the Secretariat has made in systematizing improvements to the way that senior Mission leaders are selected, empowered, and held accountable for results through the Senior Management Compacts. We owe it to all the men and women in field missions to ensure they have effective leadership.

Of course, much work remains. We continue to have questions and comments about the details, which I am sure we share with each of the other delegations in this chamber. I look forward to the chance provided by this year's C34 Substantive Session to talk more about what we all want to achieve with modernization and these reforms.

We continue to support a capabilities-driven approach to peacekeeping operations, and bolstering missions' operational effectiveness. Operational effectiveness derives from having the right mix of trained personnel, sufficient resources, sound doctrine and policy guidance, and effective mission leadership. It is often, also, a state of mind. Peacekeepers in the field should have a clear understanding of their mandates and a readiness for decisive action to accomplish the mandate to the reasonable limits of their capacity. Our mutual responsibility in New York and in capitals is to do our best to ensure that missions have the resources and capabilities they need to accomplish their tasks, but also to provide the training and policy guidance to empower them to be fully effective. Missions also need the confidence that their efforts are backed politically by member states, both in the region and within the United Nations.

Madam Chair,

I am convinced that our peacekeepers in the field – women and men, soldiers and police, civilian specialists and senior leaders – are united in the sincere desire and determination to secure the peace, protect civilians, uphold justice, and sow the seeds of stable, well functioning societies. They take pride in their service and their successes and the blue helmets or berets they wear. I believe all of us assembled here in New York are also united by an honorable calling to work together, to enable the United Nations to make missions more effective and responsive, and to back them up when they go abroad under the United Nations flag. We have much work to do, yet I am confident that our deliberations in coming weeks will advance that aspiration.


PRN: 2011/032