Remarks by Ambassador Jeffrey A. DeLaurentis, Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs, at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Peacekeeping

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
United States Ambassador and Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
August 26, 2011


Thank you, Mr. President. Let me begin, as others have, with a word on what happened in Abuja this morning.

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific attack at the United Nations offices in Abuja, Nigeria this morning.

The victims are humanitarians and development experts, and members of our United Nations family.

We stand ready to offer whatever help and assistance is needed by the United Nations and our Nigerian friends to recover, to rebuild and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

We extend our deepest condolences to the UN, the people of Nigeria, and to the families, friends, and colleagues of the victims.

Mr. President,

I am honored to convey the United States’ warm thanks to India and to you, Mr. President, personally, for organizing today’s open debate on peacekeeping operations. It is particularly appropriate for India to have organized this debate, given its decades-long commitment as a leading contributor of troops and police to UN operations across the globe. We thank you for your country's contributions and sacrifice.

We would also like to extend our compliments on the thought-provoking concept paper which you circulated to the Council to stimulate discussion. The paper helped to surface issues on which we hold different perspectives, but it also enabled us to see where we all are in clear agreement. First and foremost, we fully concur that the success of UN peacekeeping is dependent on a strong partnership among the Security Council members, TCCs and PCCs, and the Secretariat.

We are particularly pleased that today’s Presidential Statement calls for concrete measures to enhance the Council’s consultations with TCCs and PCCs, and seeks more regular input from UN's Force Commanders, Police Commissioners and other current and active serving uniformed personnel, who can provide us with a critical understanding of the challenges and realities they face on the ground

We also welcome India’s suggestion that the Council more regularly enlist the good offices and diplomatic engagement of TCCs and PCCs in countries or regions where peacekeeping operations are deployed, where their engagement could bolster efforts to overcome challenges and obstacles in a peace process.

As we take these steps, we concurrently renew our commitment to the full peacekeeping reform agenda that has been the subject of intense discussion in the Security Council and the General Assembly’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. Several aspects of that reform agenda remain important works in progress:

With respect to the Protection of Civilians: We welcome the work being done by the Secretariat to develop operational training and planning tools to enhance the ability of UN peacekeeping operations to effectively implement their protection of civilians’ mandates. We encourage troop and police contributors as well as missions in the field to use this material and provide feedback.

With respect to Helicopters: We share the Secretariat and TCC concerns that the chronic lack of military helicopters significantly hampers the ability of UN peacekeeping operations to implement their mandates, including for the protection of civilians. We believe that addressing this strategic gap should remain a high priority and requires a multi-faceted response and creative thinking from both Member States and the Secretariat.

On Mission Leadership: We appreciate the Secretary-General's recent efforts to strengthen the appointments process for senior field personnel. The quality of mission leadership can sometimes mean the difference between success and failure. We support measures to equip and empower mission leaders to implement their mandates and to hold them accountable for results. But this responsibility is not the Secretary-General’s alone. We, the Member States, must put forward our very best and most qualified candidates for senior mission leadership positions.

On Standards and Capabilities: Properly equipping mission leadership means providing them with troops that are able to meet clear performance standards. We welcome the Secretariat's recent work to develop model standards for infantry battalions.

On the Rule of Law: We believe that equal if not greater attention is required on enhancing the UN’s performance standards in the areas of police, justice and corrections. The work to strengthen local rule of law institutions is critical for building a self-sustaining peace. Further, the different parts of the UN system engaged in the rule of law need to strengthen their partnership and "Deliver as One."

On Civilian Capacity: The rule of law is one area, but not the only one, where there is still much work to be done to ensure that the UN has qualified civilians available, as and when needed. The Senior Advisory Group's report on Civilian Capacity illuminated the issues that we must address to provide post-conflict countries and SRSGs with the best deployable civilian expertise to support political processes and develop national capacities. The United States welcomes the work of Under-Secretary-General Malcorra and her team to develop implementable measures from the Guehenno report's recommendations.

There is a lot of good work being done to improve UN peacekeeping, but equally some serious challenges and gaps. As we go forward, we encourage the Secretary-General to give us candid assessments of what missions can and cannot do within capabilities available to them. If a mission is unable to effectively discharge its mandate for protection of civilians—because it lacks adequately trained and equipped troops, is missing desperately needed helicopters, suffers from deficient command, control and communications systems, or struggles with certain TCCs maintaining national caveats—then we need to know. And while it is true that gaps may exist between mandates and means, let us also recognize that a third key ingredient is the political will of individual missions or troop contingents to take robust action when they have the means and the mandate to do so. We look forward to further discussion among all peacekeeping stakeholders on providing peacekeepers with the mandates and means they need, as well as the resolve that host populations rightfully demand and expect.

Mr. President, The United States applauds the many achievements of UN peacekeeping over more than 60 years. We honor the sacrifices of the men and women who have served under the blue UN flag—military, police, and civilian—in the furtherance of peace, and especially remember with our deepest gratitude those who have lost their lives in service.

Thank you.


PRN: 2011/165