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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2009

United Nations General Assembly, Sixty-third session; Special Committee on Peacekeeping operations. Comprehensive review of the whole question of Peacekeeping operations in all their aspects

Statement by Captain Michael Millar, RNZN, on behalf of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, 23 February 2009

Mr Chairman,

I have the honour to deliver this Statement on behalf of the CANZ group of countries; Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Allow me, at the outset, to thank Under Secretaries-General Alain Le Roy and Susana Malcorra for their statements to this committee and for the continued engagement of their respective departments with Member States.

Mr Chairman,

As we address this Session of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping we recognise that there have been notable successes in strengthening our peacekeeping capacities over the past few years. However, that progress has been matched by increased operational challenges. This organisation has never deployed so many field missions in such complex environments. As a result, the international community’s capacity for a timely and effective response to emerging crises appears increasingly stretched. This tendency is most evident in Darfur, where the UN is struggling to establish a robust hybrid mission in a difficult logistical environment. Soon, the UN might be mandated to establish an even more challenging mission in Somalia, while still struggling to fulfil its commitments in Chad and the DRC.

We, the Member States of the United Nations, must insist on continuing reform of UN peacekeeping so that this fundamental tool of international peace and security can be utilised efficiently and effectively. We must also be cognisant of the strengths and limitations of UN peacekeeping, and ensure that we carefully manage risks faced by peacekeeping operations. In this context, we welcome the Secretariat’s new initiative to conduct an analysis on future peacekeeping challenges and look forward to reviewing the outcome.

We well understand that the impairment of UN peacekeeping missions can also be due to other external factors outside the control of the Missions; in particular a lack of cooperation and political engagement between the parties in conflict that, at times, can undermine the peacekeeping arrangements.   CANZ believes that there needs to be a clear and strong political process between these parties, for in the absence of such a process it is extremely difficult for a peacekeeping mission to succeed.

In 2000, the Brahimi report made a number of key recommendations to improve the effectiveness of UN peace operations.  While not all recommendations were addressed, many of these proposals were advanced in Peace Operations 2010, which was launched in 2005.  However, there remains a significant gap between the direction provided by the Security Council on peacekeeping operations and the capacity of Troop Contributing Countries to commit forces. There is an immediate need to improve the interaction among the Security Council, DPKO and Troop Contributing Countries during the formulation of peacekeeping mandates to ensure that the mandates adopted by the Security Council are achievable and that TCCs’ capabilities are such that they can meet the requirements of these robust mandates.

Mr Chairman,

At this time, CANZ would like to address some specific matters that have a direct impact on the capacity to conduct peacekeeping operations safely and effectively.

At its 2008 substantive session, the C34 recognised the need for clear and appropriate guidelines for peacekeeping missions so that peacekeepers are able carry out all their mandated tasks.  DPKO doctrine is an essential tool to ensure that all member States share a common understanding of UN field mission operational and management issues. This shared understanding is crucial to facilitating smooth, safe and efficient operations. Therefore, we consider the development of clear doctrine and guidance a priority.

CANZ acknowledges that Protection of Civilians is a prominent element in eight Security Council mandates, and recognises the importance of an integrated approach within UN peacekeeping missions. It is vital that protection issues are translated into clear and realistic operational guidance for military and civilian actors in the field; matched to their capacity and capabilities to achieve the mandate.   Those upon whom we entrust protection responsibilities must have the appropriate knowledge, resources and training required to fulfil this role effectively.

The newly revised Aide Memoire on the protection of civilians provides an important framework to assist in defining threats to civilian populations. Practical tools such as, this facilitate effective responses to protection challenges. We also anticipate the publication of the joint OCHA-DPKO study on lessons-learned over the past ten years of protection mandates in UN peacekeeping operations.  CANZ requests that the Secretariat, in partnership with Member States, develop the appropriate guidelines and training material to help facilitate the full implementation of Protection of Civilians mandates, building on lessons learned and best practices from Member States.

There is no question that the role of police in UN peacekeeping has increased exponentially over the last few years. Police, including formed police units, are undertaking more robust and complex tasks. The Police Division has completed a strategic review of its functions, procedures, structure and organisation, including its supporting elements and existing resources, in order to determine how best to meet its current mandates and responsibilities. The main conclusion of this strategic review is that there is an urgent need for strengthening of the Police Division.  In principle, CANZ supports enhancing the capacity of the Police Division and looks forward to reviewing the detailed proposal. CANZ also welcomes the parallel work of the Police Division that is urgently addressing the standard of training within the deployed FPUs and the need to further develop the doctrine and training for Formed Police Units.

CANZ has been a strong supporter of the strengthening of the Office of Military Affairs, and trust that the recruitment of new seconded personnel is well underway. We look forward to considering the implementation report during the 64th Session of the General Assembly. We believe that this report should revisit the question of a deployable headquarters capacity and possible solutions for its establishment.

CANZ, along with the rest of the peacekeeping community, is deeply saddened by the fatalities of peacekeepers who are targeted in missions. Notwithstanding the obligations of all parties to respect international humanitarian laws, UN peace operations must have the mandate and the capacity to defend UN personnel and facilities in high threat environments. The Secretariat must also have the analysis, early-warning and crisis capacity to prevent and manage such situations.  We continue to urge the Secretariat to consider deploying and utilising advanced technology in peacekeeping missions to meet these needs. We seek assurance from the Secretariat that comprehensive efforts will continue to be made to ensure the safety and security of all UN personnel.

Complementary to the Secretariat’s efforts on safety and security there is a need to deter the perpetrators of attacks against UN and associated personnel and ensure that these people are brought to justice.  In this regard CANZ urges all Member States, not yet party to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations personnel to ratify this Convention.  Both the Convention and its Optional Protocol strengthen our international cooperation thus ensuring that individuals are held accountable for crimes against persons carrying out the broad range of UN activities.

Mr Chairman,

One of the strengths of the decision to reconfigure the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and establish the Department of Field Support was to deliver a better level of support to the field. CANZ appreciates the regular and candid engagement with Member States by both departments and we acknowledge the progress towards unity of purpose. The complex departmental processes that affect efficiency need to be streamlined and staff need to be encouraged to assist in advancing best practices for the betterment of peace operations and the peacekeeper in the field.

Mr Chairman,

In closing, CANZ acknowledges the commendable service of the men and women deployed to peace operations and we pay special tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace.

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Page last updated: Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:49 NZDT