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I am honoured to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
First, I would like to commend the Netherlands for holding this open debate at a particularly timely moment. Peacekeeping operations continue to be a vital instrument in advancing peace and security in the world and remain a flagship activity of the United Nations. I would also like to thank the Secretary General for his comprehensive and informative briefing and signal the EU's strong support for his efforts and initiatives to make the UN's delivery more effective and efficient on the ground, as well as thank the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Director of the NGO, GREFFA, for their highly useful and important briefings.
Before I address the subject matter of this debate, allow me first to pay tribute to the thousands of peacekeepers that over seventy years have been and still are putting their lives in harm's way, sometimes in the most complex and challenging of environments, as well as to all those who have lost their lives in the service of the United Nations. We owe them a frank debate and determined action to ensure that peacekeeping operations can effectively deliver on their mandates and that our blue helmets are endowed with the means to perform.
Recent reports, from the 2015 HIPPO report to the Santos Cruz and Cammaert recommendations, highlight the need for change to ensure successful peacekeeping operations in very complex and challenging environments. We concur with the Secretary-General in his call for the UN to become less risk averse when it comes to innovation and to continuously generate and test new ideas, building on lessons learned from the past. Swift and concerted action by all stakeholders is required to make peacekeeping operations more effective, more adaptable, and better tailored to the specific realities they have to tackle.
The EU is a key partner of the African Union, the regional organisations and the African countries when it comes to peace and security. Since 2004, more than 2.6 billion EUR have been provided via the African Peace Facility in particular for African led peace and security operations.
The experience with the G5 Sahel Joint Force represents a combination of efforts never seen before. The EU and the UN have come together to support an AU-mandated African initiative through a channelling mechanism for financial contributions that also allows third parties to engage. By supporting the G5 Sahel Joint Force in its efforts to tackle terrorism, organised crime, people smuggling and human trafficking in the region and thus improve the overall security situation in Mali and beyond, we are also acting in support of MINUSMA. At the same time the EU is providing financial reimbursement for MINUSMA's support to the G5 Sahel, as well as supporting the G5 Sahel in the establishment of a human rights and international humanitarian law compliance framework for its operations. It is also important to note that UNSC resolution 2391 (2017) calls for international contributions. The EU has delivered on this and we call upon our fellow UN members to do the same.
Indeed, the importance of global-regional partnership in peacekeeping has been underlined by many speakers today. We continue to advocate for an increased role of regional organisations within UN authorised interventions, facilitating - when appropriate - rapid deployment, acting as complementary to UN operations, or deployed in a bridging capacity for instance, in order to restore a safe and secure environment conducive to the subsequent deployment of a United Nations Peacekeeping operation, as it was the case in CAR with EUFOR CAR. We also remain committed to giving full support to Africa's efforts to manage its own security. The EU's support will continue to cover all phases of the conflict cycle, including African led initiatives to engage in preventive diplomacy and mediation, the operationalization of the African Peace and Security Architecture, and the deployment of African-led peace support operations.
Together with the UN we are deepening our cooperation on topics of mutual interest as part of our long-standing Strategic Partnership on Peacekeeping and Crisis Management. In the current environment, emphasising the importance of the UN-EU partnership is perhaps more important than ever. Among other things, this partnership has allowed the EU to play an important role in facilitating EU Member States' contributions to UN peacekeeping, which has increased quite significantly in recent years. Another area in which the UN-EU cooperation has intensified and in which the EU's added value and complementary role are unmistakable, is the Security Sector Reform (SSR). Throughout past years, the EU has undertaken a greater role within the overall SSR coordination responsibility of UN Peacekeeping Operations, but also of UN Special Political Missions. The EU’s unique know-how in this key field of expertise can be used in both military and police critical domains. This is the case in CAR and Libya, but also in Iraq, Somalia and Mali.
Thus the ongoing process to define the follow-up to the 2015-2018 priorities to strengthen this strategic partnership on peacekeeping and crisis management is very timely. It gives us an opportunity to reflect on what the conclusions of recent reports and reviews, as well as the ongoing UN reform efforts, should mean for the UN-EU partnership on peacekeeping and crisis management. It amounts to a joint effort to try and translate some of those recommendations into practice, and find ways in which to operationalise our common political commitments to more efficient and effective peace operations.
Going forward, we have to become even better at drawing on our respective expertise and comparative advantages to mutually support each other in the field, and to ensure progress including on implementing the Women, Peace and Security agenda in peacekeeping, working also with other partners to generate smart pledges. We should focus on areas where our cooperation is likely to have a real impact; where it is likely to make a real difference on the ground. Equally important is to be realistic on what we can achieve and manage expectations.
We need to increase the number of both uniformed and civilian women in peacekeeping. This is not just a matter of implementing this Council’s Women, Peace and Security agenda, in particular resolution 2242. Increasing the number of women in peacekeeping is also crucial to enhancing the effectiveness of peacekeeping overall, for example by enhancing the interaction with local communities. We also reiterate the importance of mainstreaming a gender perspective across mission activities. To this end, Senior Gender Advisors should be located in the offices of the mission leadership and report directly to the Special Representative.
I would like to stress the importance of firmly embedding any efforts to enhance the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations in the wider context of the UN reform process. The reform initiatives launched by Secretary-General Guterres on management, the peace and security pillar and on the development system, are necessary enabling factors to the success of his efforts to warrant greater impact of peacekeeping operations. They ensure unnecessary red tape is cut and greater responsibilities, coupled with greater accountability of managers on the implementation of mandates, are delegated to the field. Only the combined effect of all of these reform strands will ensure that the process delivers on our shared expectations.
However, even the most successful peace operations cannot substitute political processes, and we continue to stress the paramount importance of political solutions to conflicts, to address root causes and drivers of conflict, including human rights violations, as well as the priority that should be given to prevention. The Council, together with the other stakeholders, should reconsider ways to build consensus around strategic objectives for peacekeeping missions, mandates' design, prioritization of tasks, as well as how to best monitor their achievement. An effective feedback loop is as crucial as the underpinning in-depth conflict analysis. Strategic reviews should support adjustment of key operations through an assessment of capabilities and conditions needed for successful mandate implementation. A comprehensive performance policy of peacekeeping missions should also ensure that necessary remedial actions could be undertaken swiftly. At the same time, we underline the importance of reducing the overall environmental impact of UN peacekeeping operations. A lighter footprint would allow for cost efficiencies, improved safety and security - both for troops and for civilians of hosting countries - and, eventually, better mandate delivery.
In support of political solutions, peacekeeping cannot be successful without peacebuilding. Peacebuilding must be considered before, during and after the life of a peacekeeping mission. In this regard, coherence and cooperation are as essential between the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, as they are between the Secretariat and the UN Development System, and between peacekeeping missions and the UN country team, especially in transitions at the beginning and the end of peacekeeping missions. Prevention and sustaining peace must be thought of as a continuous process, in which peacekeeping missions are but an essential part of the process. Their mandates and the strategies of peacebuilding actors must align and complement each other, and the mechanisms for their alignment must be built into peacekeeping mandates, as well as into the coordination structures of the peacebuilding actors in the UN system.
We continue to underscore that protection of civilians must be at the core of peacekeeping mandates. Effective implementation of the protection of civilians as a whole-of-mission effort requires better planning support to missions, capturing lessons learned effectively and improving the analysis, alongside strengthened accountability for implementation of mandated tasks. Peacekeepers must protect civilians and be able to use force when those are under threat of physical violence, consistent with clear mandates, while operations must be equipped with the necessary tools in this regard. Peacekeepers also do play a critical role to protect children in armed conflict. Well trained child protection focal points and their cooperation with civilian child protection advisors are essential to ensure effective monitoring and reporting of grave violations, but also that children associated with armed forces and groups are treated with special consideration for their status as children. For example, in DRC, MONUSCO child protection advisors contribute to the separation of thousands of children from armed groups every year.
The international community will continue to address many challenging issues on the peacekeeping agenda throughout this year. The EU stands ready to continue to constructively engage in this work.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.