I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
I would like to start by thanking USGs Ladsous and Malcorra for their extensive briefings on the status of UN peacekeeping. The briefings definitively reminded us of the importance of what we are here to discuss. Despite all of the challenges, peacekeeping is working and has saved thousands of lives during its history.
We welcome the progress that has been made so far in a number of countries towards the restoration of peace, with the active assistance of UN missions. A recent example is the smooth holding of the first round of presidential and legislative elections in Liberia. But UN missions are also facing profound challenges. One of them is the safety and security of peacekeepers – which also affects the safety and security of civilians. That will be our starting point, followed by a strong focus on the importance of implementing the wide-ranging reforms that have been developed over the past few years, concluding with the need for continued emphasis on gender mainstreaming.
Security of UN personnel should be on top of our agenda. We strongly condemn the recent killings of three UN peacekeepers in Darfur. I would like to join you all in paying tribute to them as well as others who have given their lives in the service of peace. We honour their memory.
We welcome USG Ladsous’ promise to make safety and security for UN personnel a priority during his tenure. We, as personnel contributing countries, must feel confident that all measures will be taken to strengthen UN field security arrangements. High risks can be tolerated. Leniency in risk management cannot. Lack of security undermines peacekeepers performance, discipline, command and control and capacity to implement the mandate – including the mandate to protect civilians.
We support the ongoing efforts to strengthen UN peacekeepers’ capacity to implement the protection of civilians mandates, not withstanding the primary responsibility of national governments and regardless of the source of the threat. The consensus that we were able to build in the last session of the Special Committee provides a very good basis to strengthen the implementation through guidance and operation-level strategies. We welcome the newly developed training package on protection of civilians that was presented to member states here in New York a week ago. We call for these instruments to be fully used, knowing very well that peacekeeping operations are not the only UN tool for protection of civilians. We also urge DPKO as well as member states to ensure the effective use of the operational guidance on the prevention of and response to sexual violence in conflict.
We deplore the sad fact that UN personnel continue to breach the Secretary General’s zero tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse. While it is true that considerable progress has been made in confronting that challenge, more needs to be done. We welcome the recent initiative by USG Malcorra to develop new recommendations to the Secretary General to take renewed action to reduce the number of such abhorrent cases in UN field missions. At the same time we also recognize our responsibility as member states and personnel contributing countries to do our part.
It is vital that we continue to improve and strengthen UN peacekeeping so that it can serve us effectively in times of change. Financial constraints make it an urgent priority to work smarter, to do more with less. Clearly this will be extremely challenging, but we – as UN member states - can take heart from the fact that we do have a joint basis as well as a set of reform initiatives and strategies to build on:
We share a common vision of a UN that should “deliver as one”, with the integrated mission as a key concept. With our support the Secretariat has developed a solid framework for peacekeeping reform through the New Horizon process. In March this year the Secretary General released an independent report on civilian capacities. The report puts forward wide-ranging recommendations aimed at strengthening international civilian support for post-conflict countries, including in a peacekeeping context. The Secretariat has just finalized an internal guidance document on the contribution of UN peacekeeping to early peacebuilding. Now is the time to put into practice the ideas that have been developed within these various initiatives. I will highlight some Nordic priorities:
We welcome the reported progress of the New Horizon pilot projects to design and define capability standards for field hospitals, staff officers and infantry battalions, as well as the development of guidance material on the use of force and operational readiness evaluations. The pilot projects will contribute to strengthening the overall effectiveness of UN peacekeeping through the provision of concrete measures for delivery for each individual component. The pilots should be followed up by the development of performance standards for all relevant peacekeeping units. Together we must discuss how we can ensure that all will be able to comply with those standards, including the use of incentives.
We commend the DPKO and the DFS for having developed a strategy on early peacebuilding for peacekeepers that will substantially improve their capacity to prioritize, sequence and plan their activities. We note that the strategy has been developed in discussions with key UN departments, agencies, funds and programmes and the World Bank. We strongly urge that those same partners should be included in its implementation – to ensure that the UN operates on the principle of comparative advantage. This is the case in South Sudan, where UNMISS has delegated its mandated responsibility for child protection to UNICEF. This is not only a very cost effective use of UN resources, it also paves the way for a more integrated UN in the field.
We welcome the reported progress with the implementation of the Global Field Service Strategy, which is well on its way to transform the delivery of field support to UN missions. Human resources are a key factor. We are confident that implementation of the civilian-capacity report will increase UN missions’ ability to assist with those very critical tasks that are identified in the strategy on early peacebuilding for peacekeepers.
We fully concur with the strong focus of the civilian capacities report on the importance of building and developing national ownership, including the primacy of local capacities. National ownership is of special importance with regard to highly sensitive areas such as security sector reform and the rule of law. Regional ownership – through regional SSR policy frameworks such as the one being developed by the AU – is a valuable supplement. As mentioned in the Nordic statement in the recent Security Council SSR-debate; African perspectives on SSR can help adapting SSR tools better to a particular country context and thus contribute to the legitimacy, viability and sustainability of SSR support. Strong partnership between the involved actors is crucial to reach our common ambitions in this area.
The recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to three female leaders should serve as an inspiration for member states to nominate more women for leadership positions in peace operations. The number of women among the Special Representatives of the Secretary General is on the rise. We would also like to see a woman as force commander and, more often than today, as police commissioners.
All leaders, both women and men, are responsible for ensuring full integration of the gender perspective in all peacekeeping activities. This is first and foremost a question of implementing existing plans and strategies, and here the commitment and action by senior mission leadership is crucial. We commend the DPKO and the DFS for the efforts that they have put into the development of those important documents. They include the five year overall forward looking strategy, the support guidelines (for integrating a gender perspective into the work of the UN military in peacekeeping operations), the implementation strategy for the guidelines and the gender training strategy. They will contribute substantially to the successful implementation of mission mandates. We encourage the leaders of the two departments to continue working closely with all relevant UN actors, facilitated and supported by UN Women, to pursue this agenda even further to the benefit of all.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.