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.