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National statements

Comprehensive Review of the Whole Question of Peacekeeping Operations in All Their Aspects

Thematic issues

  • Iraq
  • Justice
  • Peace and Security
  • Peacebuilding
  • Peacekeeping
  • Policing
  • Protection of Civilians
  • Regional Organisations
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Terrorism
  • Women

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY – Fourth Committee

Statement by the Hon Alan Griffin, MP, on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CANZ group)

Mr Chairman,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the CANZ group of countries – Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. We thank Under-Secretaries-General Herve Ladsous and Ameerah Haq for their informative presentations today.

CANZ welcomes the Secretary-General's timely call for a strategic review of UN peacekeeping. CANZ looks forward to a candid assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the existing peacekeeping architecture, as well as specific and realistic recommendations for tangible change. We anticipate contributing to the review. We must ensure that the UN and member states are able to generate and mobilise capabilities adequately prepared to respond to crises quickly, to conduct mandated operations effectively and efficiently, and to play a constructive role in laying the groundwork for sustainable peace.

Mr Chairman,

Consistent standards and adequate guidance are critical to generating properly prepared forces. CANZ strongly supports the ongoing development of UN Military Units Manuals as an element of the UN's operational readiness assurance framework. Effective oversight mechanisms must be in place to support the new standards to ensure their consistent application. CANZ strongly supports the role of the Office for the Director of Peacekeeping Strategic Partnerships in providing the vital oversight needed to ensure that deployed military and police forces are meeting the operational needs of the mission. We encourage a strong partnership between this office, peacekeeping missions and troop and police contributors, with open and regular communication to improve the effectiveness of deployed military and police units.

Training peacekeepers to UN standards, particularly at the pre-deployment phase, is a critical component of operational effectiveness. To this end, CANZ encourages the delivery of consistent and coherent training using UN standards to prepare peacekeepers for UN peacekeeping missions. CANZ believes that the increased integration of e-learning training into the UN's training efforts would be of significant benefit. For some training topics, e-learning can offer the advantage of easy access to low-cost, standardised, training materials for a widely disbursed population of military, police and civilian peacekeepers. CANZ therefore welcomes further Secretariat efforts to develop the UN's peacekeeping training architecture, including a coherent allocation of resources to better support training needs.

The evolution of modern peacekeeping has led to an increased demand for UN police. At the same time, UN police require an increasingly sophisticated and broader range of capabilities, including to counter transnational organised crime and terrorism, to be able to successfully carry out their mandated tasks. CANZ welcomes the efforts taken by UN police division to advance the strategic guidance framework, providing contemporary policy and training for core UN police operational functions. CANZ also recognizes the significant work undertaken by UN police division on the development of their multi-year strategic plan to provide a clear road-map for UN police both in UN headquarters and in the field. Noting the increasingly important role that policing plays in peacekeeping and post-conflict peacebuilding, Australia will convene during its presidency next month the first ever dedicated Security Council meeting with Heads of UN Police Components which we hope will become an annual event. Australia is also proposing the Council adopt a resolution, focused on practical steps to increase the effectiveness of Police Components and of the UN's work on policing more generally.

As recent crises in Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, and South Sudan have demonstrated, sexual violence in conflict remains a dreadful reality. To cite one example: UNAMI has reported that women are being openly sold in ISIL-held territory, a modern day form of slavery. In addition to being disproportionately the victims of sexual violence, women are still, all too often, sidelined from the peace and security process. We note, however, some areas of progress. CANZ applauds recent Security Council resolve on conflict-related sexual violence and on strengthening women's participation and leadership to resolve conflict and promote sustainable peace and security. We welcome the recent publication of the DPKO/DFS Gender Forward Looking Strategy 2014-2018, including the attention it gives to concrete actions for the prevention, protection and response to sexual and gender-based violence, access to justice, development of specialised police and one-stop centres for victims. We call for the timely execution of the strategy, as well as the further implementation of other UN Security Council resolutions. CANZ continues to call for increased appointments of women in UN missions, and further mainstreaming of gender perspectives across budgeting, planning, and operations. We expect this issue to figure prominently in the Secretary-General's review.

Mr Chairman,

CANZ was very pleased that the General Assembly reached a consensus on the 2014/15 peacekeeping budget, which included a new reimbursement rate for troop contributing countries, reaffirming our collective commitment to support the thousands of brave men and women in the field. We must ensure that our considerable investments translate into operational success. There have been positive steps, such as the ongoing implementation of General Assembly resolution 67/261, which includes new incentives for risk and the timely provision of critical enabling capabilities, penalties for absent and non-functioning equipment, and the new standard of 12 month rotations. CANZ now expects that new and strengthened measures to maximise operational efficiency and effectiveness will emerge from the Secretary-General's review.

Protecting civilians remains central to the credibility and overall effectiveness of multidimensional peacekeeping missions. The expectations in Chapter VII missions is clear: intervene without hesitation when civilians are under attack, using force when necessary. While the primary responsibility to protect civilians rests with the host government, UN missions with a protection of civilians mandate must have proactive and preventative strategies and a common understanding of their obligations – both for prevention, and for intervention, if prevention fails. CANZ encourages further analysis and guidance for peacekeeping missions, particularly on flexible mission-wide early-warning capabilities, and on the support to be provided to host governments to exercise their responsibilities. We also encourage the Secretariat to prioritise resourcing of the protection of civilians coordination unit within the Secretariat to appropriately reflect the centrality of this imperative to UN peacekeeping. Equally, we encourage more staff to be dedicated to protection advice and coordination within missions.

Operational efficiency and effectiveness also relies on ensuring that appropriate technologies are brought into UN peacekeeping. Any enabler that allows those in the field to achieve their mandate in a safer, more effective and efficient manner must be embraced. Technological advances are already enabling some missions to improve situational awareness, decision making and the performance of mandated tasks. This saves lives. CANZ welcomes the successful use of unmanned unarmed aerial vehicles in MONUSCO, and strongly supports their use in MINUSMA, UNMISS, MINUSCA and other missions. We must continue to find more innovative approaches to contemporary operational challenges. In this regard, CANZ looks forward to the outcomes of the expert panel on technology and innovation in UN peacekeeping.

CANZ welcomes the steps taken by the Secretariat to further improve the safety and security of deployed personnel. Recent changes in strategies and equipment, such as the establishment of the quick reaction force and efforts to counter the growing threat from IEDs, have proved indispensable in the face of a changing security environment. Shortfalls in critical enablers such as helicopters continue to hamper the operational mobility of missions, impede mandate implementation and impact on the safety and security of peacekeepers. We reiterate our requests to the Secretariat to examine and improve processes that govern the deployment, utilisation and operation of military helicopters in missions. Also, as the safety and security of UN troops, police and civilians are, more than ever before, threatened by insurrection, insurgency, and terrorism, the proliferation of weapons affects the ability of peacekeepers to provide security for themselves and for civilians. We encourage further support to assist peacekeepers to track and manage illicit weapons flows and implement arms embargoes.

Mr Chairman,

The peace we hope to keep through peacekeeping missions needs to be stable and sustainable. This means supporting security sector reform efforts across the UN system. CANZ welcomes the adoption in April of the first-ever stand-alone Security Council resolution on security sector reform, and the progress made to develop a comprehensive, coherent and coordinated normative framework. Also, the 2015 Review of the Peacebuilding Architecture is an opportunity for the UN to assess its approach to peacebuilding in post-conflict countries. We welcome an in-depth appraisal of peacebuilding, focussing on local ownership and the prevention of a relapse into conflict.

CANZ is unequivocal in supporting stronger partnerships with regional and sub-regional organisations in UN peace and security efforts. These organisations often have a better understanding of the issues; know the parties concerned; can generate a force rapidly; and can use all those attributes to help set and implement mandates which complement regional political efforts. More can be done to improve the support to, and partnership with, regional organisations across the whole spectrum of the UN's peacekeeping agenda – in the Council and across the wider UN membership.

Mr Chairman,

CANZ firmly believes that the C-34 plays a vital role in our collective efforts to strengthen and improve UN peacekeeping. We welcome the efforts of the C-34 Bureau to capture lessons for the upcoming session and explore new opportunities to add further value to UN peacekeeping. We also feel that the C-34 will be able to provide valuable insights for consideration during the Secretary-General's review.

In closing, we acknowledge the commendable service of the men and women from all UN partners deployed in peacekeeping operations, and we pay special tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace.

(As delivered)

Last Updated: 5 June 2015
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