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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2014

United Nations peacekeeping operations: New Trends UN Security Council

Statement by H.E. Jim McLay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand, 11 June 2014.

Thank you, Mr President, for convening this important debate. 

At the outset, New Zealand recognises those brave personnel – military, civilian and police- who risk their lives in UN peacekeeping operations, and particularly pays tribute to those who have been killed in operations.

UN peacekeeping is a global partnership; and New Zealand regards peacekeeping as one of the UN’s greatest achievements.  The blue beret is a powerful symbol of the international community’s commitment to peace and security.

But, Mr President, right now, that same UN peacekeeping is under serious stress; due to unprecedented demand, the complexity of new security threats, undiagnosed root causes, lack of effective early warning from the field, insufficient inclusion of TCCs and other major stakeholders - and, not least, the risks of premature transitions out of peacekeeping mode.  All that suggests that this Security Council, as the legal decision maker on peacekeeping, must do a whole lot better.

But responsibility for that stress runs wider, as does responsibility for the solutions. The C34 has too often been locked in an unproductive struggle – and that’s been a lost opportunity for delivering the policy support that peacekeeping needs. And the Fifth Committee must find an equitable and fair solution to the issue of troop reimbursements for TCCs.

Mr President –

Peacekeeping must continue to evolve to meet changing circumstances and new challenges. New Zealand supports the evolution over recent years of multidimensional mandates. When designed sensibly, with good oversight, quick impact projects and adequate resources, and with a strategy for progressive transition to peacebuilding, such operations can be a very positive UN contribution to restoring international peace and security.

New Zealand fully understands the concerns expressed about the difficulties inherent in the robust mandates which have been recently approved.  But the solution is not simply to retreat to the peacekeeping of the past. Neutral observer missions still have their rightful and important place.  Many others have already pointed out that the Brahimi report reminded us, there are times when the UN cannot stand aside; there are times when it must act; and we should never forget that the Charter recognises that collective action is a central role of this United Nations. And it’s not correct to suggest that the recent robust mandates in DRC, Mali and CAR are entirely new.  Indeed, for over a decade, robust civilian protection mandates have been a reality for most peacekeeping missions.

Fortunately, force rarely needs to be used, but the capacity and the authority to act are important deterrents.  We saw limited robust UN action in Cote d’Ivoire in 2011 and, much more recently, we’ve seen how robust UN capacity can save lives in South Sudan.

Mr President -

These new peacekeeping trends also mean that this Council must do better in recognising the role and competence of regional and sub-regional organisations.  New Zealand has seen and learned the value of regional involvement in peacekeeping in its own region. Supporting and working more effectively with IGAD, ECOWAS and ECCAS, as well as with the AU, is an important challenge that must be addressed.

Mr President –

New Zealand acknowledges, and is sensitive to, the concerns of Troop and Police Contributing countries in respect of these recent peacekeeping developments.   Significant changes in peacekeeping - be they broad trends on the enhanced use of technology, robust mandates, or significant changes in mission mandates – must only be made after better consultation with Troop and Police Contributing Countries.   There are already general undertakings from this Council on its engagement with TCCs and PCCs – and the future challenge for Council members is to implement those undertakings in a consistent and meaningful way. 

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Page last updated: Friday, 13 June 2014 10:37 NZST