Norwegian Statement UN Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations

4/16/2009 // The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations opened its 2009 session February 23rd that will last for about three weeks. Ambassador Morten Wetland gave Norway's opening statement the second day of the session.

Madam Chairperson,

I would like to start by commending all the members of the UN peacekeeping apparatus for their efforts to bring peace to countries that have been ravaged by war and conflict. Modern peacekeeping involves a multitude of actors, within as well as outside the UN, such as the AU, the EU, NATO, NGOs and individual countries. They all have important contribution to make.

While emphasising the UN’s prime responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, Norway supports the present trend, where regional organisations and others are willing and able to shoulder greater responsibility. In such a landscape, it is paramount that the UN continues to strengthen its dialogue and cooperation with relevant partners. This is necessary for us to effectively meet the seemingly ever-increasing demand for peacekeeping. But even if we all work together, we are facing a number of challenges.

Let me focus on six specific issues.

First of all, Norway welcomes the initiative by France and the UK to improve UN peacekeeping. One question frequently asked is whether it is appropriate for the Security Council to authorise new operations when ongoing missions lack mandated resources. This is clearly a dilemma. However, the Security Council, and the UN, cannot ignore outbreaks of conflict even if resources are stretched thin. We need to consider alternative models, such as the Joint Military Commission in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains. This was an example of an unarmed mission where strong ownership by the parties made it possible to make use of limited resources. We need to look closer at the lessons learned from this, as well as other missions, to ensure optimal use of scarce resources. This is all the more important at a time of growing economic constraints.

These issues should be addressed in the follow-up to the 23 January Security Council debate on peacekeeping reform. Norway welcomes the intent to make this a collaborative process.

We need to involve more countries. A broadening of the pool of personnel contributors will be vital in order to meet the increasing demand for peacekeepers. This will also be in line with the UN’s universal mandate. In this regard, Norway is increasing her own contribution, and we are currently preparing for the deployment of a field hospital to the UN operation in Chad and the Central African Republic.

Secondly, Madam Chairperson,

Protection of civilians lies at the heart of UN peacekeeping. The UN’s ability to protect civilians is by many seen as a test of the organisation’s relevance in crisis management.   Clearly, the UN cannot be an absolute guarantor for the safety and security of civilians within its areas of operations. Expectations in this regard need to be managed. Nevertheless we all have a responsibility, as UN member states, to make sure that all that can be done is done.

All personnel-contributing countries as well as the peacekeepers themselves must respect international humanitarian law and abide by the highest standards of conduct.

The Secretary General’s Zero Tolerance Policy on sexual exploitation and abuse must be effectively enforced in all UN operations and programmes.

The protection of civilians from sexual violence is an integral part of this agenda.

Peacekeeping personnel must be given action-oriented directives to reduce the vulnerability and exposure of civilians to sexual violence. One important measure is better information sharing routines between agencies and organisations which will increase the ability of peacekeepers to provide protection.

Norway commends the delegations of Australia and Uruguay for organising the workshop on the implementation of protection of civilian mandates in the run-up to this session. We look forward to receiving the joint DPKO- and OCHA-commissioned independent study on this issue. We need to learn as much as possible about the approaches that are likely to have the greatest impact on the ground. Doctrinal guidance must be developed to assist peacekeepers in the conduct of protection tasks.

One key message is that protection of civilians is not just about the use of force. Protection is not, and should not be, regarded as the exclusive province of the military. A successful outcome requires an early integrated planning involving all relevant actors. This is of course true for peacekeeping in general.

And this, Madam Chairperson, brings me to my third point:

To implement an integrated approach, missions must be sufficiently resourced with civilian as well as military personnel. Unfortunately the UN suffers from a seemingly perpetual problem of filling civilian field positions. Norway believes that timely recruitment of civilians is essential, and supports the establishment of a roster of civilians. Norway would like to encourage the UN to make active use of existing rosters, such as the African civilian stand-by roster AFDEM, which is a pool of personnel trained jointly by Norway and African partners.

Civilian personnel are key to the implementation of justice and security sector reform. Such reform, based on national ownership, is vital to sustainable peace, and should be a key element in the exit strategy of most, if not all, peace operations.

Madam Chairperson,

My fourth point is that analytical capacities at headquarters should be strengthened. This is vital in order to enhance the Secretariat’s capacity to provide the best advice possible to the Security Council prior to the adoption of mission mandates. Circumstances on the ground are becoming increasingly complex. Mandates must be formulated and resourced to take that into account. Even more importantly, mandates must be reviewed regularly to maintain the best possible match between needs and resources.

Fifth, Norway urges the Security Council to focus on effects and capacities rather than on the number of personnel when deciding on force levels. In order to increase flexibility, we must break out of the rather static approach currently applied in the planning and implementation of missions. If capacities are insufficient, efforts should be made to enhance them. Both training and other kinds of support may be relevant. Norway welcomes the go-ahead given by the Security Council to use assessed contributions to finance a logistic support package for AMISOM.

Finally, Madam Chairperson,

Norway would like to see a strengthening of the Police Division, not least to follow up on the role of the Formed Police Units. FPUs play an increasingly important role in peacekeeping. Having provided an expert to the recent review of the FPUs, Norway is however keenly aware of the challenges that need to be addressed. We appreciate the efforts that are being made by the DPKO to improve them. Without the FPUs, the UN could not have mustered the required number of civilian police, and the countries that have deployed such units deserve our gratitude. Let me add that Norway fully supports the recommendations contained in the Report of the Panel of Experts on the Standing Police Capacity’s first year of operation.

To conclude, I would like to underline that Norway looks forward to engaging in constructive dialogue with the other members of this committee to ensure finalisation of the 2009 report by 20 March.

Thank you, Madam Chairperson


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