Realizing Goals of 2030 Agenda, Assurance of Global Security Require Sharing of Space Technologies, Fourth Committee Hears, as Debate Concludes

16 OCTOBER 2015

Realizing the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the assurance of global security required the sharing of outer space technologies and the adoption of an international code of conduct for their application, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today, as it concluded its general debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

Many delegations expressed support for the principle of non-appropriation of outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and its non‐militarization, saying that space-based technology held immense potential to benefit developed and developing countries alike. The United Nations needed to promote equal, non-discriminatory access to outer space activities, irrespective of levels of social, economic or scientific development, they stressed.

Noting that space activities could assist with programmes in such areas as agriculture, water, telemedicine and global health, El Salvador’s representative welcomed proposals by the European Union and other countries for the creation of a code of conduct on outer space activities. However, multilateral negotiations to that end must be inclusive and held under the auspices of the United Nations, he stressed.

In the same vein, Nigeria’s representative said many developed countries had been taking steps to enhance and promote the capabilities of developing nations in space-based technology through training in the fields of telecommunications, meteorology and remote sensing. All those applications had played an invaluable role in the monitoring of desert encroachment upon the Sahel region of Africa, he noted.

Also in relation to mutual collaboration, India’s representative said his country had taken up a project with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to establish a ground station in Viet Nam for receiving, processing and using data from Indian satellites for a variety of applications, including disaster management support.

Israel’s representative said his country had recently undertaken, with a civil society partner, the provision of Internet access to sub-Saharan African nations via the Israeli AMOS-6
communications satellite. That important venture would provide those in the developing world with equal access to the opportunities offered by modern communications technology, he added.
Other countries, however, warned against overcrowding in outer space and its potential militarization. Ecuador’s representative urged the Outer Space Committee to seek the creation of a treaty that would prohibit the deployment of weapons in outer space because a growing number of actors could create complications in that regard. “A few Member States should not have security at the cost of everyone else on the planet,” he emphasized.

The Russian Federation’s representative said that some Member States regrettably lacked the solidarity to contribute to long-overdue positive changes in space security. Both France, the initiator of the agenda item, and the United States, which had supported it, had difficulties in grasping the various safety aspects of space operations, while the Russian Federation believed in focusing on those essential elements.

In response, the representative of the United States said that both his own country and France had been leaders in developing guidelines on the long-term sustainability of space activities, and any allegations to the contrary were “appalling”. Turning to six applications for membership of the Outer Space Committee, he said it was unfortunate that that matter had been politicized during the Committee’s last session. “These six United Nations Member States deserve better treatment,” he said, adding, in that regard, that his delegation had introduced a draft decision proposing to increase the Committee’s membership.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said that peaceful uses of outer space rested on a conviction that progress in that field should result in lasting benefits for humankind. Contrary to international efforts to promote those activities, however, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continued to abuse its right to outer space as a pretext to develop its ballistic missile technology, she noted, urging that country to comply fully with its obligations under all relevant Security Council resolutions.

Her counterpart from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea described recent developments in national space activities, including the establishment of that country’s new General Satellite Control Centre. Such peaceful efforts were taking place in the face of “ceaseless challenges and obstructions of hostile forces”. He said the United States was putting pressure on his country on the basis of faults it had found with its satellite launch, which the United States said were in violation of Security Council resolutions.

Also speaking today were representatives of Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan, Libya, Philippines, Cameroon, Algeria, Argentina, China, Iran and Japan.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene Thursday, 22 October, at 3 p.m., to resume general debate on International cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

Fourth Committee Unanimously Approves Draft Resolution Urging States to Identify Areas Containing Mines, Other Explosive Remnants of War

16 OCTOBER 2015

As many as 7.9 million people still lived in close proximity to areas affected by landmines, with the use of explosive devices in populated areas gaining more prominence as a feature of modern
warfare, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today as it unanimously adopted a resolution on the matter.

 By other terms of the text, titled “Assistance in Mine Action” (document A/C.4/70/L.8), the Assembly would request that all States support mine-affected countries by providing reliable, predictable and timely contributions for mine action activities, as well as assistance for victims and mine-risk education, especially at the local level.

Introducing the draft resolution on behalf of the European Union, Poland’s representative said his delegation had done its best to ensure that the drafting process was transparent, inclusive and open to all countries wishing to make a contribution. The text reflected changes on the ground and would hopefully contribute to facilitating the work of the “everyday heroes” who put their lives at risk to eliminate the threat posed by mines and other explosive hazards.

Presenting the latest report of the Secretary-General on Assistance in Mine Action, Dmitry Titov, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, said that improvised explosive devices were increasingly being used, adding that, in addition to killing many non-combatants, those that failed to detonate added to the hazards that threatened civilians, impeding peacebuilding and recovery.

Agnès Marcaillou, Director of Mine Action Services, said that, when UNMAS was invited by an affected country, it provided support in a technical way, advising on equipment, training deminers and providing the right expertise to local volunteers. However, the agency must remain selective in its activities because it had neither the staff nor the funding to keep up with demand.
Ancillary activities — including surveying affected areas, conducting risk education and coordinating victim assistance – also fell under the purview of UNMAS. Member States needed to strengthen their partnerships with UNMAS, which also required those in a position to fund it to do so, she said.

Afghanistan’s representative said his country had been struggling with the problem of landmines, explosive remnants of war — including improvised explosive devices — and their devastating consequences, for more than three decades. It remained one of the world’s most heavily mined countries, with an average of 33 Afghan civilians killed or injured by mines each month so far
in 2015. The use of improvised explosive devices, a common tactic used by the Taliban and other terrorist groups, was another threat to civilian life.

Iraq’s representative said that, with 25 million mines, his country was one of the most heavily mined in the world, which undermined sustainable development and threatened lives and livelihoods. Entire villages were populated by amputees, he said, urging the international community to help Iraq demine its territory, carry out civilian awareness programmes and rehabilitate landmine victims.

Egypt’s representative emphasized that countries or entities that planted mines had a legal obligation to remove them, because the prohibitive cost of removing mines and other explosive devices went well beyond the capacity of many countries. With more than 22 million landmines that had caused more than 7,000 causalities, including 3,200 fatalities, and the loss of about
10 per cent of cultivated farmland for development, Egypt remained at the top of the list of affected countries.

Lebanon’s representative said that her country’s armed forces, in collaboration with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), had cleared approximately 4.8 square kilometres of mine-affected land and destroyed more than 35,000 unexploded mines and other ordnance. The Lebanon Mine Action Center was ready to share its success story and technical expertise in demining through partnerships with regional and international actors, in particular the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining and the French army.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Iran, Thailand, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, China, Ukraine, Mali, Colombia, Japan, Libya, Croatia, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 19 October, to hold a general debate and take action on a proposal relating to the University for Peace, and to begin its general debate on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.

Introduction of Report
DMITRY TITOV, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, presented the report of the Secretary-General on assistance in mine action (document A/70/207), saying it warned of the still significant, and in some cases increasing, use of mines and other explosive devices. Worldwide, as many as
7.9 million people still lived in close proximity to areas affected by mines and other explosive remnants of war. One of the most concerning features of modern conflicts was the use of conventional explosive weapons in populated areas, he said. Furthermore, improvised explosive devices were increasingly being used. In addition to killing many non-combatants, explosives that did not detonate added to the hazards that threatened civilians, impeding peacebuilding and recovery. In countries such as Afghanistan, improvised explosive devices resulted in higher numbers of casualties than landmines.

Mine action remained at the core of the United Nations post-conflict humanitarian response, he continued. The number of requests for the Organization’s emergency humanitarian mine action assistance continued to grow, with the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) as the focal point for mine action. In that role, UNMAS led, coordinated and implemented a coherent, multi-agency response, which reflected the changing realities on the ground. He reported that the international community worked closely with the United Nations system to achieve greater compliance on international legal instruments relating to mine action, whereby 162 countries had acceded to, or ratified, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty; 93 States had joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions; and 121 States had ratified the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. However, “the rubber truly hit the road” only when those commitments were implemented, he said.

Emphasizing that the world body could and must do more, he said it should continue to secure Government-owned ammunition storage areas, which not only improved security, but also significantly reduced the risk of accidental explosions and, therefore, the killing or maiming of civilians. Secondly, Member States must implement targeted risk education, which provided people with life-saving information and reduced their risk of getting killed by explosive remnants of war, including improvised explosive devices. Thirdly, the United Nations should mainstream assistance to victims and disabilities legislation. Finally, the Organization must accelerate the transfer of mine action functions to national actors and ensure that it was integrated into multilateral instruments, national plans and legislation. It was possible to bring an end to the devastation caused by landmines, he stressed. “Investing in mine action politically and financially yields immediate and long-term returns.”

Petitioners Push for Status Referendum, Autonomous Resettlement Plan as Fourth Committee Continues Hearing on Western Sahara

13 OCTOBER 2015

During a meeting characterized by impassioned pleas, calls for justice and appeals to rationale, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard testimony on Western Sahara for a second day in an effort to find a solution to the Territory’s 40-year pursuit of self- determination.
 Petitioners from around the world, including the Saharan diaspora, offered insights into the conditions of the Territory — accusing both Morocco and Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Frente Polisario) of mismanagement and human rights abuses — and perspectives on international law that applied to the situation. Several endorsed Morocco’s 2007 proposal for an autonomous resettlement plan and the long-promised United Nations- backed status referendum in order to bring the strife to an end.

Many recounted the history of the conflict, with several speakers blaming Spain for neglecting its responsibility to protect the Territory. Ahmed Boukhari, of the Frente Polisario, said that after 16 years of bloody warfare, the United Nations had put forth a peace plan including a referendum in which the people of Western Sahara could choose between independence and integration. However, he recalled that, during a speech on 6 November 2014, the King of Morocco had said Western Sahara would forever be a part of Morocco, ignoring the United Nations and “spitting on” the Saharans’ human rights.

Several legal scholars and European Parliamentarians said that Western Sahara was still a Territory that fell under Spanish administration, and although Spain had failed to protect the Saharan people, Morocco did not have jurisdiction over the Territory. Others noted that the lack of Saharan representation on an international level kept the Saharans in a constant state of limbo, with third parties deciding the terms of their existence and their future.

A Saharan refugee, Fatma Hossein Chajai, of the Femme et Jeunesse sahraouie en Belgique, said she stood before the Committee because of freedom of speech, a right she had gained after fleeing her own country, which could not guarantee her rights. Too many people had been killed or tortured, she stressed, adding that she was “terrified” to return home. “We want peace, we want freedom, we want equal rights for everyone,” she said, emphasizing that “we matter”.
Several petitioners called for the return of independent human rights monitors to the region or for the expansion of the mandate of United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to include oversight.

Craig Brown, of the Western Sahara Action Forum, said MINURSO was the only peacekeeping mission in the world without a human rights monitoring mechanism. United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon had called for an independent, impartial understanding of the human rights situation in Western Sahara and human rights monitoring was as important step to help MINURSO fulfil its mandate.

Giuseppe Romanini of the Intergroup of the Italian Parliament of Friendship with the Sahrawi People, said he saw first-hand how precarious and dangerous life was in the camps, and how human rights abuses committed by Morocco went unpunished, fuelling resentment and frustration, particularly among youth. “The sirens of Boko Haram and ISIS could prove irresistible” to that disenfranchised group, he warned.

Western rule-of-law organizations and human rights experts who petitioned the Committee, however, remained divided over the best way forward for the Saharans: continued management by the Frente Polisario or absorption into Morocco.

Juvenal Urízar Alfaro, a Chilean Professor of International Law, said the Saharan people “held captive” in the Tindouf camps had become a focus for Jihadi groups, and the camps also created a favourable atmosphere for trafficking in persons, drugs and arms. Morocco was one of the most stable countries in Africa and its 2007 autonomy proposal would ensure the stability of the region and spare the people of the Tindouf camps from radicalization.

Kirby Gookin of Western Sahara Human Rights Watch, who called Western Sahara the “touchstone of credibility for the United Nations”, said that a referendum was necessary if
Morocco was to cease violating not only the civil and political rights of Saharans, but also the exploitation of phosphates and fisheries.

Katyln Thomas, another petitioner, said Morocco had refused to proceed with the referendum
15 years ago because it knew the results would not be in Morocco’s favour. Meanwhile, Morocco ran “rampant” in Western Sahara, brazenly proclaiming that the Territory was part of Morocco. One of the final petitioners, Mula Ihfid sid Ahmed of the organization Sahrawi Students Collective Abroad, said his journey had started in the refugee camps, but he did not know where it would end. “Our future depends on this Committee,” he stressed, adding: “In Western Sahara, we believe in peace.”

Several other Saharan petitioners, as well as independent experts and representatives of non- governmental organizations from around the world, also took part in the discussion.
The Fourth Committee will next meet at 10 a.m. on 14 October to continue the joint general debate on decolonization.

The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) continued its hearing of petitioners on Western Sahara this morning. See Press Releases GA/SPD/580 of 8 October, GA/SPD/581 of 9 October and GA/SPD/582of 10 October for further background information.

Petitioners Raise Issues of Displacement, Marginalization, Ills of Nuclear Testing as Fourth Committee Continues Decolonization Debates

9 OCTOBER 2015

A far-reaching debate on the best interests of Non-Self Governing Territories fostered contentious exchanges and strong opinions from a broad array of representatives and petitioners this afternoon, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) entered its second day of debate on decolonization issues.

High-level representatives from the territories of Gibraltar and New Caledonia addressed the Committee, declaring their readiness for self-determination. However, they faced opposition from petitioners claiming the current local governments denied the claims of their original inhabitants — the Spanish and, in the case of New Caledonia, the native Kanaks.

Fabian Picado, Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, said the Territory remained on the United Nations list due only to Spain’s insistence that the principle of self-determination did not apply to the people of Gibraltar. Recounting Spain’s incursions into British Gibraltar’s territorial waters, as well as other incidents involving Spain’s Guardia Civil, he said the lives of all nationalities at sea were put at risk by such “political recklessness”, while Spanish drug smugglers went unchallenged in their importation of huge amounts of cannabis and cocaine into Europe from North Africa.

For his part, Spain’s representative said that Gibraltar was not viable without the will of his country, whose territorial integrity had been recognized many times before the Fourth Committee and the General Assembly. Gibraltar, he continued, had participated in environmental infractions, tax evasion — especially the establishment of tax havens for international companies — as well as illegal smuggling, including of tobacco, which deprived the European Union of revenue.
As the Committee turned to New Caledonia, Thierry Cornaille, a Minister and Spokesperson for the territorial government, listed the measures it had to ensure a smooth transition from the administering Power to the Territory’s people. The government had been granted economic sovereignty to control natural resources and, “guided by the principle of equality”, had instituted
    new budgetary, finance and social reforms, including the establishment of housing for all and the building of two new hospitals.

However, Mickaël Forrest of the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS), representing the native Kanaks, questioned the administering Power’s ability to guarantee independent electoral rules for the status referendum slated for 2018.

Roch Wamytan of the Union Calédonian-Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste and Nationals Group, pointed out that an influx of French nationals migrating into New Caledonia was making the Kanak people a minority in their own land, adding that the French used New Caledonia as a “Trojan Horse” to achieve its goals in the Pacific.

Also referring to France’s involvement in Non-Self-Governing Territories, Richard Ariihau Tuheiava, a Member of the House of Assembly of French Polynesia, said that despite United Nations resolutions confirming ownership, control and permanent sovereignty over natural resources for the people of the Non-Self-Governing Territories, the administering Power continued unilaterally to usurp the Polynesian people’s marine resources, including “strategic metals” such as rare earths, manganese and cobalt. In so doing, it deprived them of the means to build a sustainable economic and social future.

Moetao Brotherson, the Third Deputy Mayor of Faa’a, French Polynesia, called on France to acknowledge the colonial nature of its nuclear testing on the atolls and to constitute a committee to assess the financial damage caused by the occupation.

Also today, the Committee engaged in a procedural discussion with its Chair, Brian Bowler (Malawi), regarding the objection raised yesterday by Algeria’s representative to the participation of two petitioners. A number of delegations strongly backed that objection, while others supported the position of Morocco, which wished those petitioners to be heard. The Chair ruled that the petitioners would remain on the list.

Also speaking today were a several other petitioners from Gibraltar, New Caledonia, Guam, Falkland Islands (Malvinas)[1], French Polynesia and Western Sahara.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of the United Kingdom and Spain. The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 12 October, to continue its work.

As it continued its annual general debate on decolonization issues this afternoon, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) was scheduled to hear from representatives of Non-Self-Governing Territories and petitioners. For further background information, see Press Release GA/SPD/580 of 8 October.

Speakers Praise Diplomatic Successes over Iran, Cuba-US, Address Long- Standing Africa Conflicts, as General Assembly Continues Annual Debate

1 OCTOBER 2015

Continuing to address the broad range of challenges facing the global community, Heads of State and Government along with other high-level representatives hailed recent diplomatic successes, while decrying the plight of refugees and the crises leading to their flight, during day four of the General Assembly’s annual debate.

Among hopeful signs in the peaceful resolution of disputes, speakers cited the re-establishment of relations between Cuba and the United States and the recent conclusion of an agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme. They also turned to a number of ongoing conflicts, in particular across the African continent, stressing the need for diplomacy and humanitarianism to prevail in all regions of the world.

Welcoming the agreement reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany — formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — President Filip Vujanović of Montenegro said that current challenges to global peace and security required such a preventive approach.

Noting that active political responsibility was also part of good neighbourliness, Germany’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, said it had brought many actors, including the Russian Federation and the United States, to “sit at the same table”, to ensure Iran would never have an atomic bomb. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key called the deal a "bright spot" of the year.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck another note, cautioning against the Iran deal. He said Iran was rapidly expanding its global terrorist network and that “giving the mullahs more money” by ending sanctions would fuel more repression inside and outside the country. He urged those responsible to “make sure that the inspectors actually inspect [...] and that Iran’s violations are not swept under the Persian rug.”

Haiti’s President, Michel Joseph Martelly, who concurred with the importance of the Iran accord, also pointed out that the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States would secure greater peace in the Western Hemisphere.

Dragan Čović, President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that terrorism and violent extremism were the most serious challenges facing the world. The ideology characterized by absolute disregard for life was seriously undermining the fundamental values and achievements of civilization.

Furthermore, he said that until recently, the crisis in Syria had largely belonged to the Middle East. However, days ago, Syrian refugees had arrived at the borders of his own country, a reminder that in the modern global environment, the events of one region were closely intertwined and inseparable from the events at his country’s borders. The waves of refugees presented a large burden for the majority of countries to which they were arriving.
Speakers from African nations described existing conflicts across the continent — many of which were long-standing and seemingly intractable — and stressed the need for diplomacy and humanitarian support to uphold a tenuous peace.

Characterizing the recent ceasefire in South Sudan, Vice President James Wani Igga said it was holding in certain parts of the country, but not all, which he attributed to the absence of a joint monitoring and verification mechanism on the ground. More than any other time in South Sudan’s conflict-ridden history, disarmament and rehabilitation required concerted and technical intervention from the country’s “many good friends around the world”.

Somalia’s Prime Minister, Omar Sharmarke, said 25 years ago the country had experienced its own “Arab Spring” and in the ensuing decades the repercussions when a country did not meet the political demands of a society. Aligned with the new Sustainable Development Goals, a “Grand Development Plan” for Somalia would focus on creating an essential social and physical infrastructure, jobs and opportunity for young people — providing choices to keep them from
 extremism — and the elimination of the “local business” of non-governmental organizations, giving each Member State the opportunity to invest in his country’s economic rejuvenation.

Raymond Tshibanda N’tungamulongo, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, said the United Nations remained increasingly relevant in its timely objectives and principles. Without peace, development was just a hypothesis. Where underdevelopment and poverty reined, social demands frequently led to violence. Recalling his country’s history of conflict, he said it might have disappeared had it not been for the United Nations support, which had restored peace, security and State authority.

“There are no borders anymore,” he said, stressing that the “synergy of efforts” was not an option but a requirement.

Also speaking today were Heads of State and Government, as well as other high-ranking Government officials, from Madagascar, Federated States of Micronesia, Angola, Cabo Verde, Lesotho, Georgia, Greece, Malaysia, Slovakia, Luxembourg, India, Algeria, Austria, Ireland, Chad, Botswana, South Sudan, Burundi, Nicaragua, Antigua and Barbuda, Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands, Cambodia, Nepal, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Bahamas, Saudi Arabia and Papua New Guinea.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were representatives of Pakistan and Iran.

JAMES WANI IGGA, Vice-President of South Sudan, said that after attaining freedom in 2011, progress had been thwarted by unjustified internal power feuds that resulted in a conflict the engulfed 3 out of 10 provinces in the country. The bloodshed, however, ended on 26 August with a peace agreement between the rebel leadership and the Government, followed by the President’s declaration of a permanent ceasefire the following day. The next step consisted of rebuilding the country with the help of humanitarian assistance from the international community and the United Nations.

Although South Sudan had been tied down by its own difficulties, it participated in global and regional strategies aimed at tackling threats of terrorism, he said. He commended the role of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in the lead-up to independence and after fighting resumed. Yet, any renewal of the UNMISS mandate without either consultations or consent by the Government was unacceptable. The peace and security of the South Sudanese had been the paramount responsibility of the Government; it would never condone the crimes against its citizens or the violation of their human rights.

The ceasefire declared in August was surely holding in certain parts of the country, but not all, which the Vice-President attributed to the absence of a joint monitoring and verification mechanism on the ground. He urged the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to speed up the creation of “this vital instrument” for enforcing a meaningful ceasefire. As proof of the Government’s commitment, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) had left the capital, Juba, and redeployed 25 kilometres away. It was therefore incumbent upon the international community to rush humanitarian, resettlement and development projects to the area in order to cement peace and stability. More than any other time in South Sudan’s conflict- riddled history, this disarmament and rehabilitation required concerted and technical intervention from the country’s “many good friends around the world”.

JOSEPH BUTORE, Vice-President of Burundi, expressed his commitment to the United Nations work in strengthening international peace and security. Despite the recent upheaval over planned elections in June, Burundi had restored order and set the stage for upcoming reforms in the country. The failed coup had sent thousands of people fleeing the country after its leaders had committed crimes against humanity, including the recruitment of child soldiers, but the United Nations, as well as the East African Community, had confirmed the legitimacy of the President and discounted the coup’s “hidden agenda to destabilize the country”. In the sovereignty of any independent State, he said, “people of the world must have their choices respected” and Burundi was no different.
After the new Government was named in August 2015, in all respect of the Arusha Accords, Burundi commenced an intergovernmental dialogue — open to all opinions — on social issues, peacebuilding, the Constitution and the ceasefire. The Government also put in place a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to account for conflicts since the country’s founding. It also adopted an African Union decree towards disarmament, and pledged to turn over weapons used by rebel groups. Moreover, those arrested during the coup would benefit from a fair defence, and child soldiers have received clemency for their roles. Regarding the refugees, he said the country could benefit from the international community to ensure their return and resettlement.

Continuing to Burundi’s development, he said women had been included in the political realm more than ever before, participating in not only parliamentary bodies, but also as the heads of several agencies. Primary schooling was currently free for all and encompassed the equal enrolment of both girls and boys. Additionally, free health care for children under the age of five had significantly reduced child mortality. But as Burundi entered the era of the Sustainable Development Goals with confidence, the country also looked to work towards the security goals of the Great Lakes countries, and would deploy its troops “at any cost” to reaffirm its solidarity with their aspirations for a peaceful region.

MOISES OMAR HALLESLEVENS ACEVEDO, Vice-President of Nicaragua, said the increasing greed of global capitalism, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, had caused wars; created, fostered and cultivated fanaticism and terrorism; and spread insecurity, destruction and all forms of crises. Forced and brutal displacement of thousands of people from previously developed countries laid bare the true nature of those conflicts, and the situation would only worsen unless the international community worked together to resolve the causes of so much distress. From a commitment to peace and fair development — and to help achieve it through dialogue, firm and enduring peace — Nicaragua proposed that the United Nations uphold the responsibility of resolving those hostilities.

The United Nations must work for justice, peace, respect and sovereign security in the world, he said. To accomplish that, countries needed to foster the transformation of the Organization to serve all its Member States. During his presidency of the Assembly in 2008, Miguel d’Escoto developed Nicaragua’s mandate to lay the groundwork for those necessary changes. Nicaragua advocated for a “re-establishment” of the United Nations to prevail in the interest of all, with the ability of all Member States to talk and listen to each other on equal terms. He also encouraged a “respectful, responsible and ethical role” of United Nations agencies “alien to any form of intervention or interference” in the internal affairs of sovereign States.

As Debate Concludes, Speaker Says Time to Abandon ‘Disintegrated Approach’ of Designing Each Mission ‘from Scratch’

31 OCTOBER 2013
Sixty-eighth General Assembly Fourth Committee

As peacekeeping was one of the most “visible flags” of the United Nations, it was important to conserve its legitimacy and ensure that the missions — often operating in unfamiliar and unforgiving environments — were in strict compliance with the foundational principles of its work, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today as it concluded its comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations in all its aspects.

The validity of peacekeeping, said Ecuador’s representative, was “built from the inside”, through inclusive and transparent dialogue between all States and the Special Committee on Peacekeeping, which was the only United Nations body mandated to consider strategic concepts and policies tied to those operations.

The representative of Guatemala said it was not useful to look at peacekeeping operations as “contracting enterprises” adopted by countries to carry out their peacebuilding work. Similarly, Cuba’s delegate said the operations were a temporary measure that allowed for a long-term strategy for sustainable peace, and while peacekeeping mandates weathered continued complexity, they could easily “blur the line” between actual peace keeping and peace imposition, threatening the safety of peacekeepers and exposing civilians to retaliatory attacks.

Along those lines, the representative of Nigeria said peacekeeping could not replace the task of nation-building, as reflected in the peace-building mechanisms instituted in the countries emerging from war, especially in Africa. She emphasized a new priority direction to take into account inclusiveness, institutional building and sustained international support to reverse any setbacks, such as in the Central African Republic or Guinea-Bissau.

Furthermore, she said, the increased risk borne by peacekeepers underscored the nature of the insecurity in emerging conflicts. For civilian protection mandates and risk management, training afforded peacekeepers the ability to take on challenges posed by the instabilities, while the improvement of medical facilities for peacekeepers and other personnel was also critical.
In paying particular attention to the safety and security of troops on the ground, South Africa’s delegate added, the Secretariat should realize peacekeeping deployments — the critical first responders in conflict theatres — always had to do “more with less” in ensuring a transition to United Nations peacekeeping forces. Narrowing the doctrinal gap between regional organizations and the United Nations required broader policy discussions and the requisite military support packages, as well as predictable, sustainable and flexible funding.

Similarly, the representative of the Philippines said that honouring the peacekeepers who risked “life and limb” and fulfilling its duty to the millions who were owed alleviation from turmoil and violence meant working together to duly affirm the policy behind Peacekeeping Operations and the architecture of peacekeeping. “We cannot afford to fail,” he said.

In that, Nepal’s speaker worried that, even after 65 years, the international community was handling peacekeeping missions through “a disintegrated approach, each from scratch, dealing with each mission separately, each with a separate budget and each having to go through the same old hurdles every time”. The Organization must rise to the level of complexity, magnitude and sensitivity that peacekeeping today demanded and utilize any room and opportunity to function more proactively with streamlined budgeting, operational flexibility between different missions and broadened planning horizons for existing and new ones. Deploying peacekeeping and combat troops, possibly under the same command, should be examined to preserve the sanctity of United Nations peacekeeping.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Jordan, Cameroon, Jamaica, Mexico, Qatar, Eritrea, Republic of Korea, Bangladesh, Gabon, Serbia, Malawi and Morocco. A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) also participated in the debate.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Friday, 1 November, to begin its consideration of Assistance in Mine Action.

‘Joining Hands’ to Shore Up Operations Pays Tribute
To Blue Helmets Serving Noble Cause with ‘Sweat and Blood’


29 OCTOBER 2013
Sixty-eighth General Assembly Fourth Committee

United Nations Peacekeeping missions today were set in increasingly demanding and often perilous contexts, with operational and policy challenges that could only be addressed through collective action with an “international character”, the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) heard today as it continued its comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations in all its aspects.

Though the United Nations needed to develop regional capacities and oversee policy matters, there should be greater coherence between those who formulated the mandates and those who implemented them, said Pakistan’s delegate, adding that it was high time to impart real meaning to that partnership. “Joining hands” to make peacekeeping more effective was the best tribute the Organization could pay to the men and women who served that noble cause with devotion and “sweat and blood”.

At the same time, he stressed, in order to retain the credibility, legitimacy and general acceptance associated with United Nations peacekeeping, the use of force must only take place at the tactical level, in accordance with basic principles and with clear guidelines and command and control; peacekeepers could not afford to be seen as combatants, he added.

Rwanda’s representative agreed that the use of force in peacekeeping could threaten a mission’s impartiality, marking peacekeepers non-neutral targets and heightening the risks to civilian populations, who might be targeted in reprisal attacks. While Rwanda supported the introduction of an intervention brigade in the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) to fight negative armed forces, it also cautioned against putting peacekeepers in active combat roles, as that greatly changed the dynamic in the field and the relationship with both civilians and parties to the conflict.

The use of force, said Sudan’s representative, must be strictly limited to self-defence. Indeed, all operations must be in accordance with the Charter’s principles, such as consent, sovereignty, respect for the political independence of States, and non-interference. It was also important to examine the root causes of the conflict in order to find lasting solutions.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that the mandates must be achievable and appropriate, and recent events had again confirmed the imperative of complying with them and avoiding involvement in political affairs. Disregard for those principles could jeopardize the Organization’s neutrality. Civilian protection was doubtless one of the most important components, but his country was concerned about recent attempts to interpret international law and equating that with “responsibility to protect”.

Flowing from that position, Indonesia’s speaker said that the increasing number of attacks on peacekeepers reminded Member States of their responsibility to provide peacekeepers and civilian components with the required equipment, resources and training. Gaps in those elements not only risked the lives of the peacekeepers, but also jeopardized the fulfilment of their mandate.

Peacekeeping today, asserted Mongolia’s representative, involved ambiguous situations and extremes of violence and tension and, thus, it must be ensured that peacekeepers were adequately trained and equipped. With the security situation worsening in many field missions — Mongolia currently had some 1,000 military officers serving in six United Nations operations — the safety of United Nations personnel was a high priority issue. Additionally, troop- and police- contributing countries should be involved in decision-making processes, since they carried ultimate responsibility for a mission’s success.

Everyone, including Member States, tended to focus attention on the most pressing and demanding situations, said Switzerland’s speaker, adding that it was important to fulfil commitments to conflicts and peacekeeping missions about which much less was heard. While United Nations’ peacekeeping efforts in Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been at the centre of the international community‘s attention throughout the year, lesser known operations, such as in Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan had often delivered “equally important results in equally successful, but less visible ways”. That was particularly important to avoid relapses into conflict, he said.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Peru, Venezuela, Israel, Senegal, Syria, Lebanon, Ukraine, and the United States.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply were the representatives of Israel, Syria, and Lebanon.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 29 October, to continue its comprehensive review of peacekeeping in all its aspects.