Let me join others in honouring the memory of those peacekeepers that have paid the ultimate price in the service of peace. Let me also thank USGs Ladsous and Haq for their informative briefings. As they have reminded us, peacekeeping is not a linear, easily predictable activity. Mali is but one case in point.
2013 may see a change in the recent downward trend in UN peacekeeping. Sadly, this reflects a negative turn of events in some countries. As noted in the Security Council debate last week, civilians are paying the price. For their sake not least, this Committee must keep up the process of strengthening UN peacekeeping. Let me highlight a few areas that we consider to be essential in this regard. Most of them have a direct bearing on the capacity of peacekeeping missions to protect civilians.
Norway commends the proactive stance taken by USG Ladsous on the use of modern technology, including unmanned aerial systems. Such systems will enhance the effectiveness of missions by increasing early warning capacity and situational awareness. This will boost the capacity to protect civilians as well as increasing the safety and security of personnel. Norway is looking forward to the testing of such equipment in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a basis for further deliberations. We acknowledge that there are some sensitive issues here, but trust that they will be properly handled.
Norway fully supports the continuation of the Secretariat’s efforts to place effectiveness and performance at the heart of peacekeeping operations through a “capability-driven” approach. The Secretariat is encouraged to continue to develop capability standards for all remaining military contributions. Priority should be given to engineering units, as they are key enablers in the establishment of new missions.
Norway welcomes the increased engagement by the UN on defence sector reform. An effective, efficient and accountable defence sector is essential for sustainable peace. We appreciate the development of a training package on reform in this sector. At the same time we would like to echo the Secretary-General’s recent warning against focusing too strongly on the training of individuals, while failing to build institutions. Thus, the Secretariat should continue consultations with member states to further develop UN policy on defence sector reform. Recent events in several mission areas illustrate the disastrous effect of national defence forces not being able to create and maintain security for the country’s citizens.
The integration of gender perspectives is a key to enhancing the effectiveness and the accountability of the whole security sector, including the defence sector. Security sector reform must be designed to meet the different security needs of men, women, boys and girls.
Norway fully supports outgoing UN police adviser Ann-Marie Orler’s recent call for more female police officers. A similar call should be made for military personnel, where the picture is even bleaker in terms of numbers. Gender is not of course only about numbers – but numbers are an important part of the picture. Women tend to see female peacekeepers as more approachable than male peacekeepers. Female peacekeepers also provide positive role models that may encourage local women to join security forces. Moreover, a strong presence of female peacekeepers seems to reduce the occurrence of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Norway would like to commend the AU and sub-regional African organisations for their willingness to take responsibility for extremely demanding peace enforcement operations in Africa. This underlines the importance of continued UN planning and operational support, as well as the importance of long-term capacity-building support to these organisations.
Special attention should be given to developing the civilian dimension of the African Standby Force. As noted by most speakers in the peacekeeping debate in the Security Council last month, this dimension is key to long term stability. Norway fully supports the Secretary-General’s initiative to respond to the increasing demand for civilian personnel, which may also benefit African-led operations.
Norway would like to see a more direct engagement on the part of the Secretariat and more information sharing with member states as soon as possible after serious incidents in missions. The M23 onslaught on Goma in November last year is one example. Rapid updates to member states on such incidents will facilitate information sharing with national constituencies and help us prepare for future incidents.
Norway would also like to encourage the Secretariat to provide more insight into the lessons learned process, and the use of lessons learned and best practices to inform and develop policy, guidance and training materials.
By way of conclusion, Norway would like to stress the importance of constructive dialogue in this forum. Norway fully recognises the concerns of fellow member states with regard to financial issues, including the reimbursement of troop costs. Hopefully the recommendations of the Senior Advisory Committee will serve as a means of settling this highly contentious matter. As noted by the Secretary-General, the Special Committee has a critical role in strengthening and improving peacekeeping. To serve that purpose, we should focus on the issues that fall under the purview of this committee, and we hope that our deliberations this year will be guided by a spirit of consensus.