‘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.