I thank USG Lacroix for his thorough briefing.
We welcome the Secretary-General’s report highlighting efforts to enhance the efficiency of the UN peacekeeping missions. We strongly support the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, and the subsequent Action for Peacekeeping Plus plan for 2021-2023.
Without any doubts, UN peacekeeping missions remain an indispensable means for sustaining peace and pursuing political solutions in many parts of the world.
As of June 2023, close to 90,000 personnel continue to serve and more than 70 United Nations peacekeeping operations have served in different parts of the world, dedicated to maintaining peace and preventing further violence and conflicts.
Throughout history, these missions have been pivotal in promoting human rights, supporting accountability initiatives, and advancing governance, security and justice sector reforms. There are many success stories to mention:
UNMISS intervention during the 2021 Tambura conflict in South Sudan was instrumental in establishing a temporary base to halt hostilities, protect civilians, and facilitate dialogue.
MONUSCO, in DRC, has worked tirelessly to create stability after the 2018 elections, safeguarding over 100,000 internally displaced persons.
UN Mission in the Central African Republic facilitated peace negotiations and the delivery of humanitarian aid to nearly two million people in 2022.
UNIFIL has successfully maintained the ceasefire since 2006, and is rightfully credited for its role in deterrence.
MINUSMA has contributed significantly to protecting civilians despite its difficulties through patrols, convoys, and static and temporary bases. The peacekeepers’ outposts have often served as a haven for those displaced by the violent conflict and terrorist acts.
It is a fact, conflicts have grown increasingly complex, influenced by domestic, geopolitical, and transnational factors, exposing gaps between UN peacekeeping mandates, practical implementation and sometimes, expectations from host countries.
Matching mandates with operational realities, especially in difficult and extended conflicts, has become very challenging. This has led to increased and sometimes unrealistic expectations and when they are not met, are followed with grown criticism and, in some cases, even hostile attitudes.
Therefore, understanding, cooperation and support from host countries is essential to ensure peacekeepers implement their mandate, ensure freedom of movement to execute their missions safely. When the trust is broken, it is the implementation of the mandate and ultimately peace and protection of civilians that will pay the price.
Upon the request of the host country, MINUSMA is being withdrawn MONUSCO will soon begin it transition phase.
We remain worried that the security crisis already precipitated by the activity of notorious mercenaries in various places, known for their lack of care for innocent lives, risks aggravating further peace and stability after the UN withdrawals.
While the UN Mission and their mandates are not beyond criticism, unhappy governments must know that reverting to mercenaries should not be taken lightly, because it may prove wrong, treacherous, costly and even dangerous.
In the age of social media, disinformation and misinformation pose a significant threat. To counter false information and distorted narratives peacekeeping missions need to work closely with local communities so that they see and understand that UN Missions are not there to implement some theoretical and opaque mandate but to help and protect them in every way they can, that they are not there just because they are mandated but because they are needed; that they represent the UN but work only for the people.
The safety of peacekeepers is paramount, and the increase in national investigations addressing acts of violence against them demonstrates our commitment to justice. We must bring justice to fallen peacekeepers and deter future acts of violence against those serving under the blue helmets. It is the same for improving peacekeeping performance and transparency in standards and evaluation systems, as outlined in A4P+.
Finally, the involvement of women in peacekeeping ensures inclusivity, brings diversity and favors gender equality. It enhances conflict resolution and sustainable peace efforts through diverse perspectives, negotiation skills, and protection of vulnerable groups in conflict zones, particularly women and children. Promoting gender equality aligns with UN principles emphasizing women’s rights and roles in society.
In conclusion, we salute the dedication and bravery of UN peacekeepers worldwide and pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in their noble service for peace over the past 75 years.