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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, and the EFTA country Liechtenstein, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
First, I would like to commend the United States for holding this debate on peacekeeping and the implementation of resolution 2378.
Peacekeeping operations continue to be a vital instrument in advancing peace and security in the world, as our environment is getting more and more complex and challenging. Peacekeeping is a crucial means to create conditions and pave the way for political solutions. Under ever increasing pressures in the field faced by our military, police and civilians personnel, an open and frank debate between all stakeholders is opportune, so as to live up to our capabilities to adapt to growing challenges. Improved performance, in that regard, is fundamental to ensure both the safety and the security of peacekeepers and civilians.
We thank the SG for his first comprehensive annual briefing on implementing resolution 2378 and welcome the progress made over the past year in making Peacekeeping more efficient and effective.
The EU and its MS strongly support the Secretary General's initiatives to make the UN's delivery more effective and efficient on the ground, especially the A4P initiative, highlighting the need for a stronger focus on performance. And we welcome that the SG has continuously called for the primacy of politics, as peacekeeping operations can only be deployed in support of political solutions, never as a substitute.
Additionally, we aim to anchor our joint efforts in line with key reports such as the 2015 HIPPO report, the Santos Cruz and Cammaert recommendations. These strategic reviews support adjustment of key operations through an assessment of capabilities and conditions needed for successful mandate implementation.
All efforts at improving performance should be integrated in the wider context of the UN reform process at headquarters and in the field. The latter constitutes an indispensable enabling environment for reforms on performance to have a real impact. By constantly aiming for greater efficiency within the wider peace and security pillar, the reforms launched by the Secretary General help ensure we inscribe our efforts as part of a long-lasting and all-encompassing objective. In this context, we underline the importance of reducing the overall environmental impact of UN peacekeeping operations. A lighter footprint would allow for improved safety and security – both for troops and for civilians of hosting countries – cost efficiencies and, eventually, better performance.
We thus underline the importance of the reform efforts undertaken, in terms of management, logistics, procurement, and human resources provided to peace operations, which will hopefully give additional incentives for a culture of performance to thrive. We understand too that the efforts made at reform need to be accompanied by commitment and contribution by all members. In demanding greater efficiency and improved performance, it behoves all of us to look at our own performance and support. Only by providing the adequate resources, will our combined efforts deliver on our expectations. The EUMS have a collective approach in order to support strengthening the management of performance. This has been translated into EU common positions in various fora: from compensations to TCC and PCC reimbursement rates to Human Resource Management resolutions, as well as in the so called "cross-cutting resolutions" in the second resumed session of the 5th Committee.
We welcome the development of a comprehensive performance policy on peacekeeping. Such a policy needs to be anchored in a wider consensus that performance is one important aspect to make peacekeeping more effective, as is clear strategic guidance, adequate resourcing/funding, appropriate equipment and the provision of safety and security for peacekeepers.
A comprehensive performance policy of peacekeeping missions should tackle several key aspects such as how to forge consensus around the strategic objectives set out in peacekeeping mandates and the important peacekeeping stakeholders that will deliver the mandate, how to improve mandates' design, improve the prioritization of tasks, training, as well as sound achievements' monitoring.
We require a broad approach to performance, encompassing all peacekeepers – civilian, military and police. A key lesson learnt from the many peacekeeping missions that have been deployed in the past 70 years is the necessity to harmonize our standards and evaluation criteria so as to remove any ambiguities that could lead our peacekeepers to fail. Harmonized, integrated standards and guidelines are indispensable in the field.
This has to be achieved by strengthening our working methods with stronger leadership, accountability and transparency. Moreover, we expect all stakeholders to play their part in a renewed collective commitment to implement SC resolutions and the highest level of peacekeeping performance. At the same time, an approach aligned with the efforts of T/PCCs as well as a close dialogue with the Secretariat, are required.
For us, relevant and appropriate training remains the cornerstone of any performance policy, and the condition to translate some the aforementioned reforms into practice, and find ways in which to operationalise our common political commitments to more efficient and effective peace operations.
On the basis of consolidated standards, such training should include pre-deployment and in-mission training on integrating a gender perspective, international humanitarian law and human rights components, including child protection, and combating sexual and gender-based violence, as well as sexual exploitation and abuse.
The European Troop and Police Contributing Countries will continue to support the Secretariat to bring both the capacity and willingness to create safer environments for communities under peacekeepers' protection.
We welcome the UNSG's emphasis on increased accountability and his efforts to strengthen the system's ability to deal with sexual exploitation and abuse swiftly and decisively. The EU Member States have consistently expressed their support to 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. We welcome the progress made with the establishment of Victims' Rights Advocates at headquarters and in the field, as well as the development of new tools enhancing prevention, oversight and transparency. We remain committed to working on the long-term with partners, all TCCs, PCCs and stakeholders in a spirit of genuine cooperation, ensuring that prevention measures are further strengthened, victims are provided with assistance, allegations are duly investigated, and justice is served by the countries who contributed the personnel. We also want to see the Secretariat optimally configured, and delivering as one.
We continue to underscore the importance of protection of civilians as a core task of peacekeeping. In this regard, regular assessments constitute an indispensable part of our performance policy. They ensure that the protection of civilians under threat of physical violence is fulfilled in accordance with the requirements of necessity and proportionality.
We therefore 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.
Coherence and cooperation are essential. We underline the importance of the UN-EU partnership on peace operations and crisis management in this regard.
Better integration of modern technology and peacekeeping intelligence capabilities into peace operations should therefore continue to be pursued. EU Member States have contributed such high-value assets and continue to do so, for example in MINUSMA, MONUSCO and elsewhere.
We can all agree that a data-driven analysis can help improve the situational awareness of troops in real time, thus contributing to the implementation of the missions' mandate, to the protection of civilians and to the security of the UN personnel on the ground.
In support of political solutions, peacekeeping missions and outputs must also be assessed through a more inclusive and people-centred approach.
The EU welcomes efforts to incentivize deployment of greater numbers of women in United Nations peacekeeping operations, including for positions of leadership, and stands ready to work with the Secretary-General on a revised strategy to double the number of women in military and policy contingents of UN peacekeeping operations over the next five years. Numerous reports show that ensuring meaningful participation of women and gender balance in peacekeeping efforts increases the operations effectiveness, credibility, and chances of success of a mission, as well as being key to achieving sustainable peace. Amongst others, it is associated with greater contact with local populations than traditional military operations and with better treatment of female witnesses, victims and suspects. We continue to support the financing of gender components in missions and the integration of gender targets as an indicator of individual performance in all compacts with senior managers at United Nations Headquarters, and in the field, to ensure gender-responsive and effective peacekeeping operations.
Finally, Madam President, from a forward looking perspective, the deliberation between member states will also take place in the context of upcoming resolutions.
I thank you for your attention.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.