Congratulations to your chair for your election and also to Ambassador Arbeiter for his well-deserved re-election and his able steering of the Working Group.
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro∗, Serbia∗ and Albania∗, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
UN peacekeeping operations are a critical factor in upholding a level of peace and stability in some of the world's most complex violent conflicts. Often deployed in unwelcoming environments and tasked with a complex set of responsibilities. Let me therefore start by recognizing the courage and sacrifice of the UN peacekeeping troops. They contribute to protecting vulnerable civilians, enabling difficult peace processes and stabilizing regions that would otherwise fall into chaos.
The conflicts that we ask the UN to tackle have changed profoundly and so has the concept of peacekeeping. The shift towards multi-dimensional and complex missions requires a constant adaptation and flexibility of the UN peace and security architecture at large and of peacekeeping missions in particular. This is not least important as large operations are drawing down and exiting.
Our duty as parties to the C34 committee is to guide the way towards the needed changes, to promote a more effective and efficient peacekeeping in a rapidly changing environment. We have a joint interest in effective and efficient peacekeeping, and a joint responsibility to enable it.
Last year we were not able to agree on a final C34-report. This year we have started with a blank page and that allows us to focus on the most pertinent issues and rethink the approach.
I would like to thank the Bureau and the Facilitators for the excellent job they have done in designing a process that should set us on a successful path and for producing a well-structured zero-draft, that hopefully will make the negotiations easy….. Let me also thank the many knowledgeable colleagues in New York and in headquarters, who have translated their experience and ambitions for the work of the UN into concrete input to this report.
The EU welcomes the decision to structure the C34-report in accordance with the Secretary-General's Action for Peacekeeping initiative, consolidating the broad support and making the C34 an important vehicle for its implementation. The EU and its member states are and will continue to be strong and liable supporters of the Secretary-General's efforts to strengthen, modernize and streamlining peacekeeping.
Strengthening peacekeeping also means strengthening leadership and accountability and maintaining a strong and continuous focus on performance.
Performance can and should be measured, at all levels of peacekeeping. We welcome the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2436 (2018) on peacekeeping performance, it was an important step towards operationalising the thoughts of the Cruz-report and the A4P, but it was only a step.
The EU strongly support the development of clear measurements of performance for assessing and evaluating all UN civilian, military and police personnel as well as benchmarks to measure mission performance. We support further implementation of CPAS in all peacekeeping missions as a tool to assess the performance at mission-level. Furthermore, the EU is convinced that an integrated planning and decision-making process at Mission-level between the civilian, police and military component is a condition sine qua non to enhance the performance of each and every mission.
The new report by the Board of Auditors on the performance-audit of UN peacekeeping gives deeply concerning insights into the need to improve the capacity and management, even on very fundamental issues. The report leaves no doubt that the Secretary General has to have the necessary tools to continue to improve performance, also by linking it to force generation and to remuneration.
Relevant and appropriate training – pre-deployment and in-mission – is also essential to improve performance, mission success and the safety and security of peacekeepers. "Training and capacity building" is one of the priority areas in the 2019-2021 strategy for the EU-UN Partnership on Crisis Management and Peace Operations. Furthermore, EU Member States and associated countries support and cooperate with the UN by providing training and development of training material. It is essential that - beyond the military and policy skills required for a peacebuilding mission - training includes gender and human rights components, all protection aspects, including child protection, women, peace and security, and combating sexual and gender-based violence as well as exploitation and abuse. This should also be included in the cooperation with regional actors.
In this context, we continue to underscore the importance of protection of civilians as a core task of peacekeeping and welcome the establishment of the Strategic Planning and Monitoring Unit in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General as a step towards improved assessments and enhanced operational output. We also continue to support the prevention agenda of the Secretary-General and increased focus by peacekeeping operations on peacebuilding work to achieve sustainable peace.
We are also deeply committed to advancing the Women, Peace and Security agenda and all efforts aimed at increasing the number and participation of women as well as gender-perspectives in all aspects of peacebuilding and peacekeeping. A joint EU-UN workshop was successfully organised on 21 November 2019 in Brussels to exchange lessons learned and good practices on the increased deployment of women peacekeepers.
We welcome the Secretary General's emphasis on increased accountability and his efforts to strengthen the system's ability to deal with sexual exploitation and abuse swiftly and decisively. Steady SEA numbers are evidence calling for increased Secretariat’s efforts regarding accountability. EU Member States stand ready to continue their strong support to the effective implementation of the policy of zero-tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse, and the approach of zero-impunity for all civilian, military and police personnel in UN and other international peace operations.
The EU remains a loyal partner of the UN, not only by supporting UN Peacekeeping operations, but also by deploying our own missions within the framework of our Common Security and Defence Policy. Partnerships with regional groups are an ever more important element in effective and flexible peacekeeping. The EU and UN continue to support each other and to share assets in-theatre, be it in Mali, Central Africa Republic, Somalia, Libya, the Balkans or Iraq. We share best practices on conduct and discipline, and lessons learned from strategic reviews and assessments of our missions and operations. Our Steering Committee on Crisis Management is a solid framework for expanding the coordination and cooperation.
The EU stresses that, in situations where a peacekeeping operation operates in parallel with other forces, inter alia counter-terrorism forces and training missions, the respective role of each presence should be clearly delineated and coordinated.
The need for effective UN engagement in all aspects of handling violent conflicts, including peacekeeping, is not going away. The call for the international community to tackle the rise in violence, and the horrifying human costs that it brings with it, is growing bigger. It is our collective task to use the C34 to answer to this call.
The EU and its Member States look forward to working with all negotiators, the Secretariat, facilitators and the bureau to make this happen.