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Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations Condemns Killings of United Nations Peacekeepers, Approving Draft Report as 2011 Session Concludes

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Special Committee on
Peacekeeping Operations
221st Meeting (AM)

Under-Secretary-General Notes ‘Tragic Rise in Casualties’ over Past Year

Concluding its 2011 substantive session, the Special Committee on Peacekeeping today condemned, in the strongest possible terms, the killing of United Nations peacekeeping personnel, as well as targeted attacks and criminal acts, such as kidnapping and carjacking.

Approving the proposals, conclusions and recommendations contained in the draft final report of its 2011 session after weeks of intensive negotiations, the Special Committee also found “totally unacceptable” any attempts to seize or destroy United Nations and contingent-owned property, stressing the importance of respecting fully obligations relating to the use of vehicles and premises of the Organization’s peacekeeping personnel.

Underlining the importance of training and adequate equipment to fulfil their mandates in accordance with the world body’s standards as key factors in preventing casualties and ensuring peacekeepers’ safety, the Special Committee also underlined, in that regard, the respective roles of the United Nations Secretariat, as well as troop- and police-contributing countries.

Regarding conduct and discipline, the Special Committee reiterated that troop-contributing countries bore the primary responsibility for maintaining discipline among their peacekeeping contingents. It also reaffirmed the need to ensure that all categories of United Nations personnel operated in such a manner as to preserve the Organization’s image, credibility, impartiality and integrity. Emphasizing that misconduct was unacceptable, and that the reputation of peacekeeping missions in local eyes could have a direct bearing on their operational effectiveness, the Special Committee noted with appreciation actions taken to prevent unsubstantiated allegations of misconduct from damaging their credibility.

The Special Committee also reaffirmed the importance of continued and strengthened efforts to implement a “zero-tolerance” policy on sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations. Reiterating that the responsibility for creating and maintaining an environment that would prevent sexual exploitation and abuse should be part of the performance objectives of managers and commanders, it noted with appreciation that accountability compacts had been extended to the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and heads of mission.

In its wide-ranging recommendations, the Special Committee also addressed such critical topics as gender and peacekeeping, conflict prevention and the protection of civilians. On that charged issue, it reaffirmed that peacekeeping operations with civilian-protection mandates must be provided with the necessary resources to carry out that task, and expressed its concern at the length of time taken to draft resource and capability requirements for the implementation of those mandates.

Underlining the need for an appropriate consideration by Member States, the Special Committee also encouraged the Secretariat to continue to consult troop- and police-contributing countries on that matter, stressing the need for a clear assessment of the resources and capabilities available to missions. It further requested the Secretary-General to submit proposals on improving the ability of existing peacekeeping missions to respond to situations adversely affecting civilians, including all necessary logistical support and training required by troop-contributing countries.

The draft report, approved as orally revised, also dealt with issues including the intersection between peacekeeping and peacebuilding, and the strengthening of the operational capacity of peacekeeping missions. In that vein, the Special Committee emphasized the need for a comprehensive and inclusive discussion on ways to enhance their effectiveness, including by addressing their ability to deter threats to the implementation of their mandates, the safety and security of their personnel and ongoing peace processes.

Other proposals and recommendations contained in the report focused on areas including the restructuring of peacekeeping operations; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; security-sector reform; the rule of law; gender and peacekeeping; enhancing African peacekeeping capacities; best practices; training; and financial issues, among others.

Presenting the draft report, Mohamed Selim ( Egypt), Rapporteur of the Special Committee, noted that a number of technical changes would be made to the text to reflect the fact that it had been approved today, rather than 18 March 2011, as originally expected.

Also addressing the Special Committee today, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy said: “This report speaks to the core challenges of peacekeeping.” Moreover, the Special Committee had arrived at agreement through a collective, comprehensive effort that accurately reflected the realities of peacekeeping on the ground.

There had been a “tragic rise in casualties” among United Nations peacekeeping staff in recent months, said Mr. Le Roy, pointing out that 44 peacekeepers had died between 30 March and 9 April in Haiti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Afghanistan, Sudan and Liberia. Peacekeepers working in such difficult circumstances relied on the Special Committee’s support and on the political will of all of its members, he emphasized, taking the opportunity to pay tribute to all those who had lost their lives in the service of peace over the last year.

Joy Ogwu ( Nigeria), Chair of the Special Committee, emphasized that much work had been done to build a bridge linking the Secretariat, the Security Council and troop-contributing countries. Regular consultations among those actors would continue, she said, adding that best practices and lessons learned must be shared in a frank and transparent environment.

Taking the floor in explanation of position following the draft resolution’s approval, many delegates agreed that the report’s recommendations had been drafted in a spirit of “great compromise”. Others, however, stressed that the Special Committee still suffered long delays and inflexibility on the part of members. In that regard, Morocco’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said the Special Committee had failed to approve its report in a timely manner upon completion of its substantive session, which had run from 22 February to 18 March 2011. It should seek ways to improve both its working methods and the format of the report itself, she added.

Canada’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, said the negotiations had created conditions in which each side was “ill-prepared to listen to the other”. There was an increasing focus on self-interest on the part of members, he said, noting that, under those conditions, it had been a “harsh winter” in the Special Committee’s work, and future sessions would be harsher still if attitudes did not change.

Representatives of Brazil and Japan also made statements, as did the representative of the European Union delegation.

The draft report (document A/AC.121/2011/L.3) will be presented to the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) and subsequently transmitted to the General Assembly for adoption.

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