Importance of Abiding by Core Principles Stressed as Special Committee Delegates Point Up United Nations Peacekeeping’s Triumphs, Failures
Special Committee on
224th & 225th Meetings (AM & PM)
Praise and criticism over perceived triumphs and failures peppered demands for clearly defined mandates, sustained funding, entry and exit strategies and strict compliance with core principles as the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations concluded its general debate today.
Côte d’Ivoire’s representative said peacekeeping was among the most difficult and visible of United Nations activities, noting that Africa hosted seven missions, the most of any region. As for his own country’s experience with peacekeeping during its presidential elections, he said that a telling litmus test had come when post-electoral violence had provided the United Nations with an opportunity to show its ability to carry out its mandate under difficult circumstances, which it had done successfully.
Yet to be successful, missions needed support from the international community and the Security Council, he continued. Pointing to the dire consequences of shortfalls in those areas, he recalled that the international community’s inability to provide 44 military helicopters to the United Nations had hobbled the Organization’s efforts to fulfil its mandate to protect civilians in Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “This is simply unacceptable,” he said, pointing out that the 15 largest countries had spent $1.6 trillion on armaments in 2010, while total expenditure on peacekeeping operations from 1948 to 2010 amounted to $69 billion.
South Africa’s representative pointed to additional failures, citing a 2011 incident in which “Blue Helmets” had fought alongside a rebel movement, an action that had resulted in the toppling of a Government. That amounted to a serious violation of the world body’s obligation to abide by the core principles of neutrality and impartiality, he stressed. In another example that defied impartiality, he continued, a recent report showed that 52 peacekeepers had been captured by rebel forces claiming that their mission had been cooperating with the host country’s security services.
He warned: “Failure by the United Nations to retain a credible image by maintaining a neutral and impartial posture on the ground may give reasons to future host States either to deny or withdraw their consent to the presence of a United Nations peacekeeping mission within their borders.” Peacekeeping operations must strive to support and complement political strategies and processes, he stressed. “The United Nations cannot afford to have two distinct footprints in a conflict-affected country.”
Speakers broadly emphasized the importance of strict adherence to the core guiding principles of United Nations peacekeeping: consent of the parties, impartiality, and non-use of force except in self-defence or in defence of the mandate. Iran’s representative said that any deviation from those principles would undermine the image of United Nations peacekeeping and erode the universal support for it. Eritrea’s representative stressed that any attempt by a mission to circumvent the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence would also weaken peacekeeping as a “global instrument”.
Echoing another issue that threaded through the meeting, Argentina’s representative suggested that all stakeholders should work together to shape mandates and improve effectiveness on the ground. He cited the Group of Friends of Haiti, contributors of troops to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), as an example of how effective such a mechanism could be. However, the very future of peacekeeping operations depended on sustained financing to be effective, he said, summing up another common sentiment.
The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania echoed the point by saying that those deploying boots on the ground must be enabled to do so through the provision of adequate resources. He urged Member States not to succumb to negotiating blocs dubbed “personnel” and “financial” contributors. “We are all in the same camp, we are all peacekeepers and we are united by that common purpose of the need to achieve good for humanity,” he stressed.
Other delegates also supported a global peacekeeping partnership characterized by predictable financial, troop and equipment contributions. Peru’s representative said that his troop-contributing country was concerned that the last estimates on troop costs estimates had been completed in 1992, emphasizing that the gap in costs had forced Peru and other contributors to make up the difference. The situation must be rectified to ensure that troops were trained adequately to perform their duties, he added.
Mexico’s representative agreed, welcoming, with other speakers, the progress made in the New Horizon process, which aimed to assess major policy and strategy dilemmas, and to reinvigorate ongoing dialogue with stakeholders on possible solutions to meet current and future requirements. Nepal’s representative also supported the process for its shift from a crisis-response approach to a systematic one.
Other speakers today were representatives of Fiji, Indonesia, Serbia, Syria, Brazil, Burkina Faso, China, Uganda, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Uruguay, Sudan, Algeria, Nigeria, Philippines, Ethiopia, Japan, Jordan and the United States.
Also delivering a statement was the Permanent Observer of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
The Special Committee is schedule to reconvene at 3 p.m. on Friday 16 March, when it is expected to conclude its 2012 substantive session.