UN Security Council: Open Debate: Maintenance of International Peace and Security

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Statement delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permaneent Representative to the United Nations, 7 November 2016.

Like my colleague from the United Kingdom, I am also going to shorten my statement. The full version will be available on the website of the Permanent Mission of New Zealand.

Let me begin by thanking Senegal for convening this important discussion, and our briefers for the information and analysis they have provided us today.

Others have covered the more general challenge posed to peacekeepers in the dangerous and complex environments in which many peacekeeping operations take place. I want to highlight three aspects that we consider warrant particular attention to try to ensure that peacekeepers in such environments can operate as safely and as effectively as possible.

First, it is vital that we provide peace operations with clear and realistic mandates and that those mandates be backed by appropriate concepts of operations, clear rules of engagement and adequate contingency planning. Peacekeepers must have clarity about what role they should — and should not — be playing in addressing the asymmetrical threats present in their environment. I agree with others who say that peacekeepers should not be involved in proactive counter-terrorism or counter-insurgency activities. But they will be required on occasion to take pre-emptive steps to address imminent threats and to respond in situations when United Nations personnel come under attack. We have witnessed several examples in recent years, perhaps most dramatically in the Golan Heights in 2014, of what can happen when peacekeepers do not have clear guidance on how to respond in such situations. To ensure their readiness, we also see merit in missions establishing processes to regularly test and rehearse such scenarios.

Secondly, where asymmetrical threats are present, we must ensure that peacekeepers are adequately trained and equipped, and that missions are provided with the necessary capabilities. Too often, that does not happen. We must ensure that United Nations missions are provided the necessary intelligence, logistics and force-protection capabilities to ensure the safety and security of their personnel. The use of intelligence and surveillance capabilities assumes particular importance in such environments, and are vital enablers for peacekeepers in detecting and preventing threats to both United Nations personnel and the civilians under their protection. Such capabilities save lives, and we need to move beyond the politics that currently restrict their use.

Thirdly, the Security Council needs to provide more meaningful oversight for those peacekeepers deployed to environments where asymmetrical threats are present. That need for more active Council monitoring and management of situations of risk or high or emerging risk led New Zealand to support the establishment of regular situation-awareness briefings. It is our hope that, by ensuring that Council members are briefed on emerging threats to peacekeepers and the civilians they are mandated to protect, those risks can be more effectively managed.

The work of the Council and the peace operations it mandates does not exist in a vacuum. In that regard, it is important that the Security Council coordinate its work with other United Nations and international entities active in counter-terrorism efforts, to ensure complementarity of effort and avoid duplication. Strengthened cooperation among the relevant agencies to improve the ability of peace operations to function more effectively is essential.

We also support the Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, which emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to address the root causes of violent extremism effectively. In that regard, we support the Secretary-General’s intention to integrate the prevention of violent extremism into the relevant activities of United Nations peacekeeping operations.

As the nature of peacekeeping evolves, the Council needs to adapt to new realities. Peacekeepers are increasingly caught between armed actors and the civilians they are required to protect. It is important that the Council continue to adapt to new forms of conflict, to ensure its peacekeepers carry out their roles safely and effectively.


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