Mr President: New Zealand joins those who have paid tribute all peacekeepers, and it mourns those who have died.
New Zealand also acknowledges Rwanda’s very considerable contribution to peacekeeping. It’s a tribute that your small country is now the sixth largest UN troop contributor; yet another example of the meaningful contribution made by small states to the UN. We also acknowledge, with real appreciation, the burden carried by Rwanda and many other African countries in their support for UN, hybrid and regional peacekeeping operations in Africa, including in Somalia, South Sudan, Darfur, DRC, Mali and CAR.
Mr President: New Zealand is concerned that, despite efforts by all troop contributing countries, the system of peacekeeping is still dangerously exposed. UN peacekeeping is overstretched. Deployment of new Missions is too slow and uncertain. And, as we have seen recently in South Sudan, even existing Missions are being taken by surprise by the re-emergence of conflict.
The adoption of Resolution 2167 is therefore very timely. We congratulate you – indeed, the whole Council - for lifting the level of decision-making on peacekeeping to that of a formal resolution.
But New Zealand is still concerned that so much of the initial work on halting conflict and restoring peace is too dependent on peacekeeping by regional organisations, which are often poorly equipped for these tasks.
Of even greater concern is the fact that regional peacekeeping still lacks predictable and sustainable financing. We are therefore disappointed at the failure of Resolution 2167 to resolve the funding and capacity issue. We recall that, eleven months ago, in PRST 2013/12 of 6 August 2013, Council Members agreed that it was time to enhance the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing for regional organisations when they undertake peacekeeping under a UN mandate. It is, Mr President, a serious matter that, almost a year later, the Council, as a whole, has still failed to resolve this issue. This issue must not be put in the “too hard” basket for another eleven months.
New Zealand believes that, if the recommendations in the Prodi Report cannot be adopted in their entirety, then it’s incumbent on this Council to agree variations of those recommendations which meet the needs of all parties and ensure systematic and reliable UN support for regional peacekeeping initiatives.
Mr President: Today’s debate isn’t just about financing. Regional and sub-regional organisations have important functions across the full spectrum of this Council’s mandate – from early warning, conflict prevention, to conflict management and conflict resolution and tackling root causes, and oversight of developments in peacekeeping operations.
With the trend towards deploying peacekeeping operations to deal with asymmetric challenges where there is no real peace to keep, interested and invested regional partners can play even more important roles. New Zealand’s experience with its own regional organisations is in line with that just outlined by [Estonian] Minister Paet. Such regional organisations usually have a better understanding of the issues; they often know the players, maybe even personally; they can generate a force rapidly; and they can use all those attributes to help set and implement robust mandates which complement regional political efforts.
Too often, Mr President, this Council and UN peacekeeping have come too late to supporting regional efforts; as we’ve seen recently in Mali, and again, in CAR. We must therefore improve the partnership with regional organisations, across the whole spectrum of this Council’s agenda; and New Zealand is unequivocal in its support for such partnerships.
The annual consultations with the AU Peace and Security Council are useful, but they don’t offer the kind of opportunity for detailed discussions that is necessary when a crisis situation is emerging, and they don’t allow for ongoing follow-up. Genuine engagement requires commitment, both from the Council collectively, and from individual Council members.
There is, Mr President, much that has been left undone on these issues – as you knew when you insisted on debating this topic. And so, we thank you and your delegation for the efforts you have made here today. You have helped lay a solid foundation for the next, very necessary steps. As you said, you did, indeed, “save the best until the last”.