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I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Member States of the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia* 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.
At the outset, I wish to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas, Assistant Secretary-General, Controller, and Mr. Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, for introducing the Secretary-General's overview report on the financing of the peacekeeping operations, as well as Mr. David Kanja, Assistant Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, for introducing the related OIOS report. I would also like to express our gratitude to Mr. Victor Kisob, Director of the Learning, Development and HR Services Division, and to Ms. Jane Holl Lute, Special Coordinator on improving the UN response to sexual exploitation and abuse, for presenting the Secretary-General's progress report on the special measures for protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. Finally, please let me thank Mr. Carlos Ruiz Massieu, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, for introducing the recommendations of his committee on these topics.
The Member States of the European Union attach great importance to peacekeeping – a core task of the Organisation and the UN’s flagship activity. We are committed to ensuring that UN peacekeeping is as effective as possible in order to serve the need of maintaining peace and security. We are actively engaged as participants in UN-mandated peacekeeping operations and other relevant activities, contributing with troops, civilian police and other personnel. And we are important contributors financially.
We would like to take this opportunity to commend once again the hard work and commitment of all UN personnel involved in peacekeeping. Let me also pay tribute again to all those who have lost their lives in the pursuit of peace
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 architecture 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 collective effect of all of these reform strands will ensure that the process delivers on our shared expectations. In this regard, let me emphasize that the 5th Committee has a crucial role - but not the only role - to play in making peacekeeping work effectively.
The Secretary-General’s overview report on the financing of peacekeeping operations highlights key developments and management challenges facing UN peacekeeping. Our goal must remain to give political guidance and place our trust in the Secretary-General - rather than micromanage his organization. Strict financial discipline and transparency are key elements of good management. Peacekeeping is going through a period of mandated change and we believe this should be reflected in the administrative and budgetary handling of each specific mission, based on its unique circumstance, in particular through the scalability of all support functions. We are open to using all the tools at our disposal to ensure that budgets reflect changing circumstances. But in exchange we expect transparency on how taxpayer’s money is spent, and accountability to ensure we are aware of changes to budgetary assumptions early and clearly.
We believe that uniformed personnel form the backbone of peacekeeping and we commend all troops for their dedication to peacekeeping. We attach great importance to the capabilities and performance of the troops deployed, and to the importance of fully operational equipment as agreed to by the TCCs and the Secretariat in the MOUs. We also recall that TCCs and the UN have differing but complementary responsibilities in terms of training and providing medical support to their uniformed personnel.
We will carefully look into all important cost drivers and we believe the UN should consistently follow the principle of budgetary discipline for categories of expenditure like travel, transportation, fuel, training, ICT and the use of consultants.
UN peacekeeping should always make use of the newest technology available to improve the security and safety of the troops and reduce the environmental footprint of the missions. Modern technologies like UAVs but also the use of radars and other surveillance equipment do save lives.
In that regard and concerned about the increased number of peacekeeper fatalities over the past year, we welcome Lt. Gen Santos Cruz report, as well as the DPKO/DFS Action Plan to implement its recommendations. We stand ready to engage further to consider means and ways to better protect UN personnel and ensure that the peacekeeping missions have the necessary capabilities to do so.
We note the progress made in the area of environmental management, which is key to a responsible and sustainable presence of the UN in the field. For this reason, we welcome the ongoing implementation of the Secretariat's six-year environment strategy, as well as the recent efforts to develop global environmental management systems and tools to improve the environmental performance of missions.
It is crucial that the protected must not be harmed by those meant to protect them. The EU Member States have consistently expressed their support to the policy of zero-tolerance of sexual exploitation and abuse, and therefore the approach of zero-impunity for all civilian, military and police personnel in UN and other international peace operations, as advocated by the Secretary-General. We welcome the progress made in the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy, as well as the Secretary-General's new approach strategy launched last year. Over the past year, Victims’ Rights Advocate functions have been established at the headquarters and in the field and new tools enhancing prevention, oversight and transparency have been developed and will be implemented over the course of this year. We remain committed to continue working on the long term with partners, all TCCs and stakeholders in a spirit of genuine cooperation on combating and preventing SEA, ensuring that prevention measures are further strengthened, allegations are duly investigated, justice is served by the countries who contributed the personnel, and in providing victims with the assistance they require. We also want to see the Secretariat optimally configured, and delivering as one, to tackle this problem.
Peacekeepers also play a critical role to ensure respect for human rights and to protect the most vulnerable in armed conflict, especially women and children. Gender aspects must be mainstreamed throughout peacekeeping work, including the early stages of all operational planning. Therefore, the necessary gender expertise must be ensured in the Secretariat structures when reforming the peace and security architecture. We also strongly support the continued, sufficient, deployment of gender advisors and child protection advisors to assist mission staff as appropriate in those missions with such mandates. 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. Reinforcing gender expertise in missions is also crucial to enhancing the effectiveness of peacekeeping overall, for example by enhancing the interaction with local communities.
Peacekeeping should always be part of a broader political process and should be accompanied by measures that support peacebuilding and stabilize the situation, both during the lifespan of a peacekeeping mission, as well as in transition from peacekeeping missions to UN Country Teams. Civilian-military cooperation is crucial to a mission’s success. We think that missions and UNCTs should develop strong links and exchanges on the ground, if we want to be successful in creating a continuum between peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development. Programmatic activities can play a role in this regard; however, we would like to recall that these should not overlap with the activities of the UN Country Teams - and we expect the same levels of transparency and accountability of all money spent by missions. In that regard, the use of Quick Impact Projects should always be maintained within its original purpose as a confidence building tool, since Quick Impact Projects cannot be expected to replace more structural initiatives. All civilian activities should be implemented in close cross-pillar coordination and cooperation with UN Country Teams.
We regret that last year this Committee could not find a comprehensive agreement on the cross-cutting issues as a whole. Given the particular context of this year, with an ambitious reform agenda ahead that promises to enhance the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations, among other areas, it is of outmost importance that we take a step forward. We hope to conclude the session with a forward looking outcome that would encapsulate our common spirit about peacekeeping. As always, the EU Member States stand ready to engage constructively during the negotiations, in order to achieve consensus, through a spirit of compromise and collective thinking in the interest of the Organization as a whole.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.