Remarks by Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, U.S. Alternative Representative to the United Nations, at the C-34 General Debate on Peacekeeping, February 25, 2014

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
U.S. Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs 
New York, NY
February 26, 2014


Thank you, Madam Chair, and Members of the Bureau, for the sustained and dedicated effort you put into reaching a consensus agreement to conclude the 2013 session. My delegation would also like to thank Working Group Chair Ambassador Grant, his colleagues, and the many delegations who worked with him to put forward proposals for this year’s report, which will allow this Committee to resume its important work on UN peacekeeping. Once again, we appreciate the insight and expertise the Secretariat provides in its detailed briefings to the Committee. We hope that 2014 will bring renewed energy and focus to our task.

Madam Chair,

Peacekeeping is the UN's flagship activity, and a crucial tool to assist countries emerging from conflict to establish long-term stability and set the stage for peacebuilding and development. In the past year, we have seen the creation of a new UN peacekeeping operation in Mali, MINUSMA, which took over from the first responders in the African Union’s AFISMA. MINUSMA is helping to restore order and make it possible to provide government services to all Malians, in both the north and south. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO’s Intervention Brigade is helping to protect civilians, restore order, and create conditions for a program to disarm, demobilize, and reintegrate former combatants into society. In South Sudan, UNMISS peacekeepers faced an enormous challenge when, in the midst of a rapidly unfolding internal conflict, thousands fled their homes and sought refuge in UN compounds. The UNMISS peacekeepers who rose to the challenge to protect so many have shown once again the unique and indispensable role the UN holds in responding to armed conflict and human suffering around the world. Yet, this valiant undertaking was not without risk, and the United States offers its deepest condolences for the Indian peacekeepers killed and injured protecting civilians when their compound was overrun. We honor them and all peacekeepers who have lost their lives upholding the principles of the United Nations.

As Undersecretary-General Ladsous detailed yesterday, flexibility and innovation at headquarters and within the missions is a necessity. The Special Committee has a responsibility to support innovation and enhance the effectiveness of peacekeeping to tackle 21st Century challenges. Peacekeepers deserve practical guidance that is field-tested, updated, and based on lessons learned and best practices. Therefore, we welcome DPKO’s ambitious program, following the release of the infantry battalion and headquarters manuals, to develop 11 additional manuals to guide peacekeepers, commanders, and planners in their work. Many Member States have joined together in teams so that this critical effort can be completed within the next two years. On the heels of the military initiative, the Police Division has published the Strategic Guidance Framework for UN policing, developed in the same manner, through close consultation with a wide range of Member States.

Peacekeepers and peacekeeping missions also deserve the proper equipment and capabilities to carry out complex mandates in challenging environments. UN Peacekeeping continues to face chronic shortages of enabling capabilities, including military helicopters, and we appreciate DPKO and DFS for their analysis of the shortfalls and their commitment to work with Member States to fill the gaps. The availability of properly trained and equipped formed police units also remains in short supply, and we welcome the flexibility that allowed the movement of FPUs to South Sudan from other missions. We support the Secretariat’s use of new and innovative capabilities, such as the unarmed unmanned aerial systems, which are providing information to help strengthen early warning systems and improve MONUSCO’s ability to ensure its own safety and security. We share Undersecretary-General Haq’s determination that these systems should become “a more standard feature” of peacekeeping missions.

The United States welcomes the tools and measures put in place to address issues of conduct and discipline, including the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy and the Policy on Human Rights Screening of United Nations Personnel, and encourages Member States to work with the Secretariat to ensure their full implementation. We urge Member States and mission leadership to take the steps necessary to curb and punish serious crimes and behaviors which tarnish the reputation of the many who serve with honor.

Madam Chair, the United States supports the Secretariat’s intent to incorporate lessons learned into peacekeeping. We welcome the establishment of the Office of Peacekeeping Strategic Partnership and await its first set of recommendations on UNAMID. And we appreciate the focus on planning for transitions and drawdowns as demonstrated by the Secretary General’s endorsement in 2013 of the UN Policy on Transitions. We look forward to working with Member States, the Secretariat, and the Security Council to strengthen further the UN’s ability to plan, deploy, manage, sustain, evaluate, and successfully complete peacekeeping operations.

Finally, although we will not negotiate several chapters this year, including those on protection of civilians, gender, and rule of law, we fully support a continued strong focus on these topics. They represent critical dimensions of peacekeeping today, and are often decisive for the success and legitimacy of UN peacekeeping operations. We thank all peacekeepers – military, police, and civilian – for carrying out these essential tasks.

Madam Chair, the United States values the opportunity the Special Committee provides to hear our colleagues’ views on the successes and challenges of UN Peacekeeping. We look forward to a productive and cooperative C-34 session this year.

I thank you.

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PRN: 2014/032