Remarks by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, U.S. Alternate Representative to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs, At a Security Council Open Debate on Peacekeeping: A Multidimensional Approach

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
United States Ambassador and Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
January 21, 2013


Thank you, Foreign Secretary Jilani, for chairing today’s important debate, and thank you, Mr. Secretary-General, for your presentation. Pakistan has been one of the top contributors of uniformed personnel to UN peacekeeping operations in the post-Cold War era. The United States is grateful for Pakistan’s contributions to UN peacekeeping, and we are honored to participate in this discussion under its leadership.

Peacekeeping is one of the most important activities undertaken by the United Nations. It has reduced the incidence of inter- and intra-state conflict around the globe. Many countries, from Namibia to El Salvador and Mozambique to Timor-Leste, have transitioned from war to peace, thanks in no small measure to the assistance they received from multidimensional UN peacekeeping operations.

Multidimensional UN peacekeeping has achieved many successes since this Council established the first such operation more than 50 years ago in the Congo. But UN peacekeeping must continue to evolve to remain relevant in the years to come. I’d like to focus today on some features the United States would like to see in new multidimensional peacekeeping operations, wherever they may be.

First is a diverse mix of troop and police contributors, drawn certainly from the region concerned, and other regions as well. The universal character of UN peacekeeping missions is very important to its legitimacy and UN troops must have the right training and capabilities to be operationally effective. To these ends, this Council should be more engaged, early on, with DPKO leadership and the Secretary-General, on the force generation strategy. Force generation is a political – not technical – exercise and must be treated as such.

Second, mission staffing strategies should rely on quality over quantity, especially with respect to leadership and civilian experts. To win a host population’s confidence, a UN mission must quickly deploy real expertise and skills that the host country does not itself possess. Ten world-class experts arriving at the outset of a mission are far better than 100 mediocre generalists trickling in over time. As multidimensional peacekeeping evolves, the Secretary-General’s initiative on civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict should be fully embraced. Improved staffing also means accelerating gender balance in missions and broader inclusion of women in all mission tasks and units. We welcome the positive impact all-female units have had in Liberia and Haiti, and now in the DRC and Cote d’Ivoire, and want to see women playing a greater role, in greater numbers, in activities and leadership across the spectrum of peacekeeping activities.

Third, more military, police and civilian personnel need to receive relevant guidance and training before arriving in theater. The Secretariat has made strides in developing standards, training materials, specialized guidance and policies on issues ranging from protection of civilians to gender and health. These resources must be put to good use.

Fourth, mission leadership should prioritize cooperation throughout the mission. Peacekeeping operations have grown increasingly complex as they have been asked to tackle a host of interrelated challenges to address conflict. One of the UN’s strengths is that it can deploy a truly multidisciplinary response in a way that other actors cannot. But this is only an asset if the whole is greater than sum of its parts, which requires deep and sustained intra-mission cooperation. Mission management should design orientation and training programs together and devise truly mission-wide strategies for key mandated tasks, such as protection of civilians. “Jointness” must become routine and prioritized, from mission-planning to ‘table-top’ exercises to staffing operations and mission analysis centers. UN peacekeeping missions and UN Country Teams, moreover, must work hand in hand, including in the design of Quick Impact Projects and other initiatives to help generate local goodwill.

Fifth, we would like to see the entire mission leadership – SRSGs and their Deputies, Force Commanders, Police Commissioners and Directors of Mission Support –taking action to ensure adherence to the zero tolerance policy for misconduct. This includes swiftly investigating allegations of sexual exploitation or abuse and repatriating offending units.

Sixth, we hope troops, police and civilian personnel in UN missions begin to receive world-class logistics and administrative support while the support component’s physical foot-print is light and cost-effective. This is the promise of the Global Field Support Strategy and it must be realized for the sake of the UN’s operational effectiveness and fiscal responsibility.

Seventh, SRSGs should promote multidisciplinary cooperation not only within the UN system, but also among multilateral and bilateral assistance providers. We hope she – and I say “she” deliberately – will foster information-sharing among these actors and help forge a division of labor that builds on their comparative strengths.

Eighth, peacekeeping can only succeed if there is a genuine peace to support. Peacekeeping missions can help stabilize and catalyze recovery in countries emerging from conflict, but the Security Council must do its part to ensure that the political settlement underlying the deployment of peacekeepers stays on track. The commitment of the political leaders of the host country to work with the mission is indispensable.

Last but not least, multidimensional UN peacekeeping missions need the respect and gratitude of the host nation. The steps I’ve just noted can help in this regard, as would efforts by mission personnel to familiarize themselves with local language and culture, and empathize with the local population. But sometimes respect can only be won when peacekeepers refuse to turn a blind eye to flagrant transgressions; when they demonstrate the will and wherewithal to use force to defend themselves and enforce their mandate; and, when they tell the Security Council plainly what we need to know, even if it is difficult.

Fortunately, the next operation will not start from scratch. We have learned much in fifty years of multidimensional peacekeeping and we have the progress hard-earned by past and current operations to build upon.

Thank you.


PRN: 2013/004