UN Security Council: Brief: United Nations Peacekeeping Operations
Statement delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, 13 November 2015.
I thank you, Mr. President, and let me also thank and congratulate the United Kingdom for organizing this briefing. We fully agree with the comments of Ambassador Power of the United States that this is an important event and that we should annualize it. It might seem slightly odd for those operating in the field to see the Council in this rather remote environment from the realities that the Police Commissioners confront on the ground, so I think that it is very important that we have a chance to interact with them. I will ask some questions in relation to the different perspectives that we bring to those different issues.
I want to thank all of the briefers— Under-Secretary General Ladsous and the Police Commissioners. Their frank briefings are very helpful and address the issues of concern to them. I particularly highlight the call for a clear political strategy that Mr. Ladsous made of us, and the request for a clear and credible mandate, based on the circumstances of the country, which is an issue highlighted in the report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (see S/2015/446), as a number of speakers have noted. We believe that the challenges of resources and training and the relationships with host countries are the questions that are particularly challenging, and bear on the central task of the protection of civilians, which we all recognize as a fundamental part of United Nations police operations.
As others have noted, policing is an extremely important, relatively new expanding tool for the United Nations and the Security Council. In the past, there were complaints that peacekeeping operations were the only tool at our disposal. We discarded that notion by the wayside when we needed to do something. We do not want to risk police becoming another variety of that problem, but the Police Commissioners do offer — I would be interested if they disagreed with us — a more flexible and community-oriented response to some of the situations that we face on the ground.
Let me say that it is a given that New Zealand is a very strong supporter of United Nations police operations, and we see the value of the work that they do. We know from our own experience in the Pacific how important getting people out into the field and being part of the community is to bringing some stability and order to society. I have three questions that I want to ask the Police Commissioners.
The first is the issue of prescription. In the Council, we love to have long discussions and negotiating sessions on mandates, but it occurs to me that if one is operating in the field having a very prescriptive mandate may be rather unhelpful, so I would be interested in the Police Commissioners’ views about how prescriptive they need our directions to be in terms of the job they are doing.
Secondly — and without wanting to tread on anyone’s toes — how does it work for the Police Commissioners when they are operating in a military and police environment? How do the command-and-control issues get resolved, especially when complex criminal gangs are operating in the margins of those internally displaced persons and guerilla groups? I would be interested in how that works. Is there something we can do to help in relation to that?
Last is the question of host country relationships. We recognize that this is a particularly big deal for the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the moment, and it is a big challenge for the Council. Are there things that the Police Commissioners can do, or that we can do for them, to help improve the host country engagement, because in those sorts of environments, even though the three situations that each of the Police Commissioners have spoken about re so very different, there is a commonality of challenges in the remarks they made.