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Remarks by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the UN Security Council Open Debate on the Key Role of Strategic Communications for Efficient Peacekeeping

2022-07-12 16:07

Mr. President, 

China welcomes you to New York to preside over this meeting. China commends and supports Brazil’s initiative to hold this meeting on strategic communications and adopt a presidential statement. We believe that this meeting will make major contributions to increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of peacekeeping operations. 

I would also like to thank Secretary-General Guterres, Lieutenant General Da Costa, and Ms. Russo for their briefings. China aligns itself with the statement of the Group of Friends on the Safety and Security of United Nations Peacekeepers to be delivered by Indonesia. I would like to take this opportunity to pay high tribute to all blue helmets committed to peacekeeping under the banner of the UN. 

Strategic communications can help the world know more about peacekeeping, and help peacekeeping better serve the world. The Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative includes strategic communications in the PKO toolbox, which is an important measure to enhance safety and security for peacekeepers, and improve the performance of PKOs. China believes that to enhance strategic communications, we need to work on the following four areas. 

First, creating stronger partnerships. A PKO is like a concerto performed by stakeholders. The UN should enhance communications with the host country, TCCs, PCCs, and regional organizations, so as to share information, align goals, and coordinate activities. Of all the stakeholders, The host country is the most important one. The deployment of a PKO requires consent from the host country. The security of personnel needs to be ensured by the host country. And the implementation of its mandate requires cooperation of the host country. The UN should continue to improve communications with host countries, heed their opinions, attach importance to their concerns, and seek their support. The monitoring of ceasefire, among others, is traditionally a core part of the mandate for PKOs, and it has stood the test of history. At present, the mandate of some missions keep expanding in a mindless way. They try to cover all aspects, but fail to yield intended results. The Council should create the mandate in a reasonable manner based on the needs of the host country. Missions should also improve their communications with local communities to facilitate the public’s understanding and support of the mandates and their means to fulfill these mandates. 

Second, better protecting the safety and security of peacekeepers. These days, peacekeepers are faced with more and more serious safety and security challenges last October in Abyei, because of the lack of communications and mutual trust between UNISFA and local tribes, the medical evacuation was delayed, leading to the death of one peacekeeper. Strategic communications could help reduce such heart-wrenching loss of lives and property. There is a need to enhance security information exchanges between missions and host governments, and improve the situational awareness and risk prevention capacities of missions. In areas where many forces conduct operations, the host governments could consider creating an information sharing mechanism to avoid misunderstanding or misjudgment. Missions, host countries, and the Secretariat should work together to prevent the emergence of any misinformation on peacekeepers to create a safe and favorable public opinion environment for them to fulfill their mandates. 

Third, facilitating effective mandate implementation for PKOs. Restoring peace in the host country is a primary responsibility of PKOs. A mission should, based on thorough communications with the parties concerned and relevant regional organizations, promote the resolution of conflicts through dialogue and communication. Military means alone cannot fulfill the mandate to protect civilians. Missions should improve communications with local communities, so as to be able to detect and address security risks as soon as possible to effectively prevent conflicts and better protect the safety of civilians. When reporting on the human rights situation, missions short check facts with host countries. While investigating human rights violations, they need to get the consent of host countries. 

Fourth, improving strategic communications capacity building. The Secretariat will soon update the strategic communications public information policy. We hope that the Secretariat will take this opportunity to integrate strategic communications into all components and units of PKOs, and during the process, keep close communications with stakeholders, including TCCs. The Secretariat should include strategic communications in the training for peacekeepers to help them have a deeper understanding of local cultures and the situations of the host countries so as to more closely facilitate the implementation of the priority national policies of these countries. The communications capacity of a mission’s management is of critical importance during the appointment process. The Secretariat should fully consider equitable geographical distribution, and in particular, ensure that middle and senior managers in the force have a good grasp of the realities on the ground. 

Mr. President, 

As the second largest contributor to the peacekeeping budget and a major TCC, China has always been committed to peace through concrete actions. We have included strategic communications in our training system, which has provided peacekeepers from dozens of TCCs with targeted training, helping them improve communications capacity. Peacekeepers from China provided free medical services and build infrastructure in missionaries in South Sudan, the DRC, and Lebanon, which has helped improve local communities’ understanding and trust of PKOs, and maintain the good image of blue helmets. China will continue to work with peace-loving nations to contribute to the maintenance of world peace and security. 

Thank you, Mr. President.

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