|Remarks by Ambassador Geng Shuang at the UN Security Council Briefing on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations|
I wish to thank Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix for his briefing.
The UN peacekeeping operations have made important contributions to maintaining international peace and security. From the Balkans to the Congo River Basin, from the Sahara desert to the South Asian subcontinent, nearly 90,000 peacekeepers have braved hardships and dangers to fulfill their duties and carried out their mission of peace under the banner of the United Nations, bringing peace and stability to conflict areas and lightening up peace and hope for the world. I wish to take this opportunity to pay high tribute to our blue helmets, and express my sincere gratitude toward troop- and police-contributing countries.
At present, the world is entering a period of turbulence and transformation. Factors of destabilization and uncertainty are on the rise, and international and regional peace and security are increasingly challenged. Under such circumstances, the important role of peacekeeping operations has become more prominent, and Member States have higher expectations of them. In response to the evolving situation, peacekeeping operations need to be continuously better position themselves, strengthen their weak areas, and better serve Member States and the international community at large. Considering the performance of peacekeeping operations over the past year, China wishes to highlight the following four points.
First, strengthening the overarching design to serve the central task of maintaining peace and security. Over decades, peacekeeping mandates have continued to grow, expanding from traditional monitoring of ceasefire to the protection of civilians, from traditional security area to the humanitarian and human rights area, and in some cases, with natural resources and sanctions mandates. Among the new mandates, some are to adapt to the changing dynamics, some to meet the legitimate needs of the countries concerned, some for the so-called political correctness, and some may even risk become tools to exert pressure on the countries concerned.
The unchecked growth of mandate interferes with the mission’s core mandate, strains peacekeeping resources, and raises excessive expectations of the mission. Some mandates exceed the mission’s capacity, interfere in the internal affairs of the host country, and undermine the mutual trust between the mission and the host country. In August, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement on capacity building in Africa, drafted by China, requesting the Secretary-General to submit report within one year to assess the mandates of peacekeeping missions and make recommendations on adjusting mandates or formulating exit strategies. It is hoped that the Security Council will take this opportunity to streamline and optimize the mandate of peacekeeping operations so that the missions can focus on fulfilling their core tasks.
Second, eliminating the trust deficit and rebuilding good cooperative relations with countries concerned. Relations between the missions and the countries concerned have been a serious problem for some time, so much so that in the DRC and the Abyei region, peacekeepers have paid the ultimate price, which is most distressing. Strengthening cooperation with the countries concerned has always been an important part of peacekeeping reform, and should be given a more prominent position in the future.
In performing their duties, the missions should listen to the views of countries concerned, accommodate their concerns, and seek their support. In August, some members included in the resolution on the extension of UNIFIL’s mandate language weakening the coordination between the force and Lebanon, which is not conducive to consolidating mutual trust with Lebanon. Human rights issues have often been a complicating factor in missions’ relations with host countries, particularly in Mali and South Sudan. Missions with human rights mandate should fact check with the state concerned when reporting on human rights situation, and seek the consent of the state concerned when investigating human rights violations. The United Nations should strengthen is strategic communication with the host countries and people in order to promote their understanding of and support for the mission’s mandate and the way they work. This is the best way to combat misinformation against the mission. MONUSCO has recently communicated with various sectors in the DRC through various channels, which deserves full recognition.
Third, strengthening partnerships and mobilizing all states stakeholders to advance peacekeeping operations. In recent years, regional and subregional organizations have rapidly uplifted their willingness and capacity to maintain peace and security in the region, especially in Africa. The need for autonomous peace operations in Africa continues to rise, and the Sahel region is a case in point. Cooperation with autonomous peacekeeping operations in Africa should be an integral part of the United Nations peace operations in the broad sense, and the two sides have accumulated rich experience in this regard. In Darfur, the UN-AU hybrid operation, which has played an important role in restoring peace and stability there, has been successfully withdrawn. In Somalia, the multi-stakeholder model of the AU providing troops, the UN lending logistical support, and the EU providing additional funding has genuinely worked well and effectively contributed to the improvement of the security situation. The UN and the AU should further strengthen communication and consultation, creatively solve the legal and resource challenges in their cooperation, and play to each other’s strengths.
Fourth, ensuring the safety of peacekeepers and striving to reduce the security risks of peacekeeping operations. These core threats and challenges to peacekeepers have been on the rise for some time. This year, there have been seven serious attacks on missions in Mali and the DRC, resulting in the deaths and injuries of dozens of peacekeepers. Member States and the Secretariat should work together to enhance missions’ emergency response and early warning capabilities, strengthen rescue and medical support systems, and properly use new technologies to improve the equipment and security. China is, as we speak, sending a unit of unmanned aerial vehicles to MINUSMA, which we believe will help ensure personnel safety and improve peacekeeping performance. As the co-chair of the Group of Friends on peacekeepers’ safety, China, Brazil, Indonesia and Rwanda co-hosted a meeting on casualty evacuation last month, which yielded positive results. China will continue to lead and work with other parties to advance the security of peacekeepers on various UN platforms, so as to work for and contribute to the security of the blue helmets.
Thank you Mr. President.