Attempts Made to Alter Mandates without Consulting Host States, Says Delegate, as Fourth Committee Continues Review of United Nations Peacekeeping
21 OCTOBER 2016
Attempts had recently been made to expand or alter peacekeeping mandates without consulting host States and sometimes without their consent, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today, while continuing its general debate on the comprehensive review of United Nations peacekeeping.
Egypt’s representative said the fact that peacekeeping mandates created under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter required no consent had been used as the pretext for such actions. However, that approach threatened to tarnish the credibility of the United Nations and to place troops as well as civilian personnel at risk, he warned, emphasizing that any use of force must be absolutely necessary and duly mandated. He went on to stress the importance of enhancing the role of regional organizations, including by providing support for the African Union’s deployment of capable peacekeeping missions, specifically through the provision of flexible and predictable financial resources.
South Africa’s representative said the African Union’s stance was that the core principles of peace operations — consent of the parties, impartiality and limited use of force — remained relevant. However, they must be interpreted in a flexible manner in light of new challenges, he said, emphasizing that African Union peace operations authorized by the Security Council must be adequately funded and resourced with the necessary logistics, enablers and equipment.
In a similar vein, Venezuela’s representative pointed out that peacekeeping operations were being deployed in “situations in which there is no peace to keep”. The joint report of the African Union and the United Nations on benchmarks for deploying a peacekeeping mission in Somalia had established an important precedent because the situation on the ground in that country had not yet been prepared.
Sri Lanka’s representative pointed out the mismatch between peacekeeping mandates and resources, warning against repeating “the lapses that have sometimes dogged peacekeeping operations in the past”. Acutely aware of the link between enhancing its peacekeeping strength and its own post-conflict peacebuilding efforts, Sri Lanka acknowledged that the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants had become an integral part of peace consolidation over the past two decades and was woven into peacekeeping mandates.
Also speaking today were representatives of Israel, Guatemala, Mexico, Lebanon, Paraguay, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Norway, Niger, Switzerland, Bangladesh and Madagascar.
Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Syria and Israel.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 25 October, to continue its general debate on the comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.
The Fourth Committee met this afternoon to continue its general debate on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects. (For background information, see Press Release GA/SPD/618).
ALFREDO FERNANDO TORO-CARNEVALI (Venezuela), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said peacekeeping operations were being deployed in “situations in which there is no peace to keep”. The joint report of the African Union and the United Nations on benchmarks for the deployment of peacekeeping operations in Somalia had established an important precedent because the situation on the ground had not yet been prepared. Reaffirming the Secretariat’s responsibility for determining whether the circumstances on the ground were right for deployment, he said it was up to the General Assembly to establish attainable mandates on the basis of a clear analysis and a long-term political strategy. Troop-contributing countries must participate actively in the decision-making process within the framework of the Security Council. The fundamental role of peacekeeping must be to support the host Government, which was primarily responsible for protecting civilians, he said, stressing that peacekeeping missions could never take over the role of the host State.
MOHAMMED HALIMA (Egypt), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, said there had been recent attempts to expand or alter peacekeeping mandates without consulting host States and sometimes without their consent. The pretext for such actions had been that Chapter VII mandates required no consent, but that approach threatened to tarnish the credibility of the United Nations and place troops and civilian personnel at risk, he warned, emphasizing that any use of force must be absolutely necessary and duly mandated. It was important to enhance the role of regional organizations, including by providing support for the African Union’s deployment of capable peacekeeping missions, specifically through the provision of flexible and predictable financial resources. Stressing that no effort must be spared in eradicating sexual abuse and exploitation, he said that States must work collectively towards a true zero-tolerance policy in that regard. However, in rushing towards that objective, the issue had been approached in a fragmented and selective manner, he noted. Between the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) and the Security Council, a clear and coherent policy established by Member States to guide the Secretariat’s practical implementation of a zero-tolerance policy could hardly be identified.
TAL GAT (Israel) described the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) as a crucial factor in preventing friction and limiting misunderstanding. Noting that there had been an increase in spill-over fire from Syria into Israeli territory in the past year, he said his country had no interest in getting involved in the conflict inside Syria and did not seek an escalation. However, Israel would take all necessary measures to protect its civilians and territory, he emphasized. He described the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had proven to be a very important and useful mechanism for preventing unnecessary friction and de-escalating the possibility of regional deterioration. While stressing the need for full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), he said that Hezbollah’s entrenchment in the towns of southern Lebanon constituted a violation of that text. Israel would hold the Government of Lebanon responsible for everything that occurred on Lebanese territory, he warned.
OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala), while acknowledging the important role of peacekeeping operations in settling conflicts, emphasized the need to strengthen their operational capacities, such as management, information flows, and use of the latest technology. Changes must be made on the basis of needs on the ground, he said, stressing the need for close cooperation with host countries. He went on to voice concern about the polarization and lack of unity within the Security Council, calling for improved coordination with the Secretariat and troop-contributing countries in order to strengthen the capacity of peacekeeping operations. Regarding allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation and abuse, he expressed regret that some peacekeepers had become a threat to those they were supposed to be protecting. “It damages the reputation of the Organization,” he said, describing such actions as a weakness in the system. There was an urgent need to undertake the necessary disciplinary measures, he said.
SONALI SAMARASINGHE (Sri Lanka), noting the mismatch between peacekeeping mandates and resources, said the United Nations should consult troop-contributing countries and recipient States in developing mandates because without their input, mandates may not reflect real needs. Peacekeeping operations and many special political missions must also have adequate provisions to work with their respective host countries in strengthening the rule of law, rebuilding institutions and training personnel. She cautioned against repeating “the lapses that have sometimes dogged peacekeeping operations in the past”. Pointing out that her country’s current contribution to peacekeeping stood at approximately 500 personnel — comprising troops, military observers and civilian police — she said that Sri Lanka’s forces had excellent operational experience and expertise, having worked in difficult terrain and acquired multiple skills while facing complex situations. Acutely aware of the link between enhancing its peacekeeping strength and its own post-conflict peacebuilding efforts, Sri Lanka acknowledged that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of ex-combatants had become an integral part of peace consolidation over the past two decades, and was woven into peacekeeping mandates, she said.
JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said the demand for peacekeeping personnel had increased while resources had fallen behind. The international community must discuss all proposals and ensure that more predictable funding was secured, he emphasized. Noting that it had been more than a year since Mexico had become a troop-contributing country, he said the results had been highly positive in Western Sahara and Lebanon. He strongly condemned sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers, describing it as one of the biggest challenges for the United Nations to address.
CAROLINE ZIADE (Lebanon) emphasized the need to strengthen the abilities of peacekeeping operations so that they could adapt and adjust to new challenges and respond to national priorities. “It is of paramount importance that the Secretariat is able to detect the initial signs of unrest or crisis, and to act to prevent their escalation into a fully-fledged conflict,” she said, stressing that peacekeepers must be well equipped to help reduce tensions and launch political processes. Peacekeeping missions should never be an end in themselves, but should include peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction elements from the outset. In fact, they must support national institutions and the rule of law, security-sector reform, good governance and women’s participation in peace negotiations. She said the increasing complexity of conflicts called for greater collaboration among local, national and regional actors. Pointing out that 2016 marked the tenth anniversary of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), she called upon the international community to compel Israel to abide by its obligations and withdraw from the Lebanese territories remaining under its occupation.
MARCELO SCAPPINI (Paraguay), associating himself with the CELAC, noted that his country had established the Joint Peace Operations Training Centre, the mission of which was training armed personnel. It offered specific programmes, including those for pre-deployment to Haiti and Cyprus. In 2001, Paraguay had increased its participation in peacekeeping by sending officers to Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, he recalled. Beginning in 2006, it had participated in repairing roads, clearing canals, and treating and distributing drinking water to schools and orphanages. Paraguay was currently participating in seven out of the 17 United Nations peacekeeping missions, he noted, adding that its experience had demonstrated that protecting civilians must be included explicitly in peacekeeping mandates and must always be a priority. Appealing for stronger mandates with clear and emphatic rules to that end, he said States must commit to defending vulnerable populations. He deplored the abuse of human rights by peacekeeping forces, demanding specific commitments to address that issue.
ORGROB AMARACHGUL (Thailand), voicing concern about increased attacks against United Nations personnel, properties and premises, called for collective efforts by troop- and police-contributing countries, the Organization and host countries to comprehensively tackle that problem. In that regard, he underlined the importance of pre-deployment and in-mission training as well as the provision of adequate equipment to fulfil mandated tasks. Thailand’s contribution to peacekeeping efforts dated back to the early days of the United Nations, he recalled, emphasizing that more than 27,000 Thai military and police personnel had proudly served as blue helmets in 24 operations. The presence of female peacekeepers on the ground was vital for operational effectiveness, particularly in addressing the problem of gender-based violence. Thailand held all peacekeepers to a high standard of conduct to prevent cases of sexual abuse and exploitation, he said.
RY TUY (Cambodia), associating himself with ASEAN, noted that in order to manage the risks faced by peacekeepers and ensure operational effectiveness, they must be well-trained and provided with access to modern technology and up-to-date information. Professional planning, clear peacekeeping mandates, political support, sufficient resources and adequate financial and logistical support were essential to enabling the United Nations to effectively safeguard and protect civilian populations in conflict areas. In all peacekeeping fields and under difficult conditions, women peacekeepers had proven that they could perform the same roles to the same standards as their male counterparts. Noting that Cambodia had acquired considerable experience in demining, he said that its contingents of engineers, doctors, military police and de-miners — comprising more than 900 personnel, 55 of them women — were currently working in Lebanon, Mali, Central African Republic, Sudan and South Sudan, he said, pointing out that among 13 troop-contributing countries, the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support had praised Cambodia for its ethical peacekeeping performance.
WOUTER HOFMEYR ZAAYMAN (South Africa) said consultation was a necessary and important aspect in the implementation of peacekeeping reforms, especially with regard to developing a more robust approach to protecting civilians. “Peacekeepers are early peacebuilders as they provide a security umbrella for others to implement peacebuilding tasks,” he said. However, the activities of some parties in conflict situations undermined United Nations peacekeeping mandates, resulting in negative effects on operational functioning and effectiveness. All parties must fully respect military agreements and ensure the safety and security of United Nations and associated personnel, he said, expressing hope that cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union would be broadened to encompass all aspects of peace and security. The African Union’s stance was that the core principles of peace operations — consent, impartiality and limited use of force — remained relevant although they must be interpreted in a flexible manner in the face of new challenges. African Union peace operations authorized by the Security Council must be adequately funded and resourced with the necessary logistics, enablers and equipment. In that regard, United Nations assessed contributions should be used to secure predictable, sustainable and flexible financing for those operations, he said.
MUNA IDRIS (Brunei Darussalam), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), emphasized the need to uphold the integrity of United Nations peacekeepers’ work. She also expressed concern over reported cases of sexual abuse and exploitation by peacekeepers and voiced support for the Organization’s zero-tolerance policy in that respect as well as for full implementation of Security Council resolution 2272 (2016). Stressing that preventive diplomacy was the most cost-effective means of addressing conflict, she cited her country’s participation in peacekeeping efforts in Lebanon and, beyond the United Nations framework, in the southern Philippines, noting also Brunei Darussalam’s request to become a member of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations.
TIN MARLAR MYINT (Myanmar), associating herself with the Non-Aligned Movement and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said new peacekeeping missions should not be an easy alternative to negotiated political settlements, adding that they should only provide interim solutions. Peacekeeping mandates should be clear and regularly reviewed on the basis of situations on the ground in order to ensure effective protection of civilians, and peace operations must not exceed their mandates. The safety and security of “blue helmets” must be addressed through such measures as enhanced capacity-building and use of technology. She said countries listed in connection with the alleged use of child soldiers should not be denied the opportunity to contribute peacekeeping troops if they were making progress in implementing action plans to end child soldier recruitment. Myanmar proposed that Security Council members and States in a better position to contribute more shoulder the lion’s share of the $8.4 billion peacekeeping budget.
MOHAMAD SURIA BIN MOHAMAD SAAD (Malaysia) said that his country’s commitment to peacekeeping operations centred on its belief in collective security arrangements and the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes. Malaysia had participated in 35 peacekeeping missions, deploying more than 30,000 military and police personnel. Its peacekeepers were currently serving in six missions in addition to 10 members of the Royal Malaysian Police who would soon be deployed to Haiti. The Government had also made a commitment to contribute an infantry battalion, a squadron of engineers, a police force and training at the Malaysian Peacekeeping Centre to the United Nations Peacekeeping Capability Readiness Systems. At the regional level, the establishment of a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief group comprising of military forces from member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) would provide an opportunity for the collective management of natural disasters, he said, adding that countries should no longer work individually in managing such external shocks.
NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam) said the new global context required peacekeeping operations to uphold the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity of States, consent of the parties, impartiality and non-use of force except in self-defence. Commending the effective implementation of peacekeeping mandates and the greater focus on mediation and preventive diplomacy, she emphasized that such efforts must be accompanied by activities promoting economic recovery, reintegration and capacity-building. In that regard, she called for strengthened coordination between the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission in deliberations on long-term policies for sustaining peace. Similarly, Viet Nam stressed the need for improved coordination among actors in relation to policy formulation and decision-making on peacekeeping mandates. She underlined the need to focus efforts on the safety and security of peacekeepers operating in increasingly hostile environments.
MAY-ELIN STENER (Norway) said that her country, together with its close partners, Ethiopia and the Republic of Korea, stood ready to continue to facilitate dialogue across regional groups. There was an urgent need to translate the emerging consensus on the need for reform into concrete decisions and changed practices, both at Headquarters and in the field. Commending the African Union’s decision during the recent Kigali Summit to finance part of its operations through a levy on imports, he said host States must be fully committed to that strategy. However, the lack of cooperation on the part of host Governments was a major challenge in several ongoing missions, he noted, adding that it was unacceptable for host States to impose administrative barriers and deny United Nations personnel the freedom of movement. More women should be appointed as leaders and all gender adviser positions must be adequately funded. Efforts to combat sexual abuse and exploitation must continue unabated. More should also be done to strengthen the capacity of host countries to protect their own citizens, with United Nations Police playing a key role as capacity builders.
IBRAHIM MAHAMADOU BAKO (Niger), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that conflicts were taking up a great part of United Nations and State resources. Peacekeeping was a topic of particular importance for Niger in light of its fight against terrorism, he said, pointing out that his country had assigned 1,820 troops and police officers to peacekeeping operations, making it the world’s seventeenth overall in such contributions. Gaps and anachronisms characterizing some missions were often the result of their mandates, which should include the protection of civilians whenever necessary, he said. In order to ensure success, it was important to ensure an appropriate mandate for each context. He underscored Niger’s commitment to the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians and its membership in the G5 Sahel Group, which addressed threats to regional peace, security and development in that region as well as their root causes.
OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) said that the recommendations on peacekeeping operations and the peacekeeping architecture must be implemented if the international community wanted the United Nations to play a central role in the maintenance of international peace and security. Conflict prevention must be a priority, he said, while emphasizing the need for special attention to the rule of law, security-sector reform, fighting against impunity, transitional justice and mediation. Welcoming the recent unanimous adoption of the resolution on the Peacebuilding Commission, he said that it marked a commitment to a stronger and more comprehensive vision of peacebuilding and sustaining peace. Emphasizing the importance of mandatory high-quality pre-deployment training for police, he said the United Nations Police Division must be empowered to support Member States in the training and certification of their own police contingents.
AKM AKHTARUZZAMAN (Bangladesh), acknowledging that the range and context of peacekeeping had changed over the years, said his country had constantly updated its deployment and operational activities. Citing an example, he said Bangladesh had developed its state-of-the-art Institute for Peace Support Operation and Training for peacekeepers who had been operating in many complex and beleaguered areas. Recognizing the need for rapid deployment and force generation in field missions, he expressed his country’s willingness to deploy an engineering company, a level-II hospital, and an air field services unit to address existing and projected gaps. In addition, Bangladesh trained and equipped its peacekeepers adequately to undertake peacekeeping mandates in all circumstances, he said, adding that, as one of the top troop- and police-contributing country, Bangladesh recognized the need for new technologies to modernize peacekeeping and supported increased participation by female peacekeepers. Furthermore, he urged continued measures to ensure the safety and security of peacekeepers, including the provision of adequate defence stores as well as the sharing of timely information and threat assessments.
LILA NADIA ANDRIANANTOANDRO (Madagascar) said she was proud of her people’s active participation in peacekeeping operations in Mali, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti. Joining other speakers, she called for strengthening partnerships in response to increasingly complex conflicts, emphasizing that preventive diplomacy must be at the centre of peacekeeping efforts. “Peacekeeping operations are not a substitute for solutions,” she stressed, noting that mandates must include exit strategies. While reaffirming the importance of triangular cooperation among the Security Council, the Secretariat and troop- and police-contributing countries, she called for enhanced partnerships with regional organizations, including the African Union, since 60 per cent of peacekeeping operations took place on that continent.
Right of Reply
The representative of Syria, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said that his counterpart from Israel, the occupying authority, needed reminding that Syria would recover the occupied Syrian Golan now or in the future. He added that Israel was facilitating the passage of Nusrah Front and other terrorists through the demarcation line.
The representative of Israel said that as long as the designated terrorist organization Hezbollah was part of Lebanon’s Government, it would be hard to take the statement by that country’s delegate seriously.