Statement by H.E. Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of Fiji to the United Nations, Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations 24 February 2014
Allow me to begin with congratulations to you Madam Chair, and to the Members of your Bureau for your re-election to your leadership positions for this Committee. I thank you for so ably steering us in the inter-sessional period particularly through the work of the Group of Friends of the Chair of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations on working methods, which has yielded a result which we trust will allow smooth functioning of the Committee’s work this year. I am sure we can all agree that we wish to avoid a repeat of last year’s experience of what was essentially a process issue derailing the important substantial discussions and policy guidance given by this Committee through its comprehensive review of peacekeeping operations. The Fiji delegation pledges its support to your Bureau, Madam Chair, and will engage constructively in all discussions over the next few weeks.
At the outset, Madam Chair, I wish to associate my delegation’s statement with that made by the distinguished representative of Egypt on behalf of the Non Aligned Movement.
I wish to thank the Under Secretaries-General of DPKO and DFS for their statements providing an overview of the plethora of issues, challenges and opportunities that the UN peacekeeping community faces. They have reminded us of the changing nature of conflicts, the prevailing financial climate, and the need for UN peacekeeping to respond to such evolving situations, through maximising effectiveness including through regional partnerships, and through mandates which acknowledge and address these new challenges. Finally, they have raised issues relating to implementation of such new and multidimensional mandates, including new measures to address safety and security of troops.
The issues identified by the Under Secretaries-General should be incorporated with the existing issues and challenges faced by UN peacekeeping which we as a Special Committee must provide guidance on. The Membership of the Committee has chosen a list of issues to negotiate this year, covering a range of pertinent issues. I wish to delve into a few of these issues important to my delegation.
Firstly, allow me to address the issue of evolving conflicts that require new and complex mandates. While it is true that traditional peacekeeping mandates are often inadequate to deal with modern day conflicts, it is equally true that overburdening mandates of UN peacekeeping mandates also risks peacekeeping missions having no realistic or practicable exit strategies. A UN peacekeeping mission must never become a permanent presence in its host country. Thus exit strategies must necessarily be a part of mandate formulation.
Mandates with “robust” peacekeeping are now being issued, and we must face the fact that the UN thereby risks being drawn into the conflicts themselves, and being targeted for attacks. The effectiveness of any UN peacekeeping mission has relied very much on the reputation and neutrality of blue helmets, but as we have seen recently, the UN is now increasingly being targeted for attacks, and the safety and security of UN personnel is more at risk. The SG’s report mentions that safety and security is primarily a DSS responsibility, but it must be seen as much more than that – it is a responsibility of the Security Council when it deliberates on mandates, a responsibility of DPKO and DFS when they design missions to implement these mandates, and a reaffirmation of close cooperation between TCCs, the Secretariat and the host countries in operational implementation.
We are also witnessing a growing trend of UN Guard Units, comprised of troops from TCCs, being employed to guard UN installations in peacekeeping missions in addition to those already deployed in Special Political Missions. My delegation has raised this issue in the past, in relation to Fiji's deployment of troops to serve as UN Guard Units to SPMs. As Guard Units also begin to feature in peacekeeping missions, it will be important that the administrative and reporting requirements for guard units are clear, and that DPKO, DFS and DSS work closely to ensure that the Guard Units are supported adequately. It is after all these Guard Units which allow all UN personnel within the installations they guard to implement the mandates given to them by the UN Membership. The Security Management System described in the Secretary-General’s report will necessarily need to address the unique situation of UN Guard Units.
The nature of the conflicts being seen around the world today has also shown the need for rapid deployment abilities. This has brought to the fore the question of deployment with enabling capacities. It has been suggested that the solution lies in broadening the base of TCCs to those countries which already possess the so called “high end capabilities”. My delegation submits that efforts should equally be expended at expanding triangular cooperation efforts to provide the enabling capacities to existing TCCs who are willing and able to provide troops, but who lack these “enabling capacities”. The Secretariat should take a more active role in developing such linkages through innovative means, rather than leaving it to bilateral mechanisms between Member States. Such cooperation mechanisms will certainly assist to ensure that new Missions can be started up in a timely manner. Consideration should also be given to expanding the “premium” currently being provided for those who deploy with “enablers” to those TCCs who deploy rapidly in situations of urgency in high risk areas.
Allow me also to touch on the realities of the financial situation of UN peacekeeping. Resolution 67/261 on the recommendations of the Senior Advisory Group has already identified the manner in which troop cost reimbursements must be addressed, along with offsets to meet what we expect to be higher troop cost reimbursements. Having identified these offsets, and indeed started the implementation on the offset part of this agreement, it is absolutely necessary to ensure that work on finalising the revised troop cost reimbursements rates, based on the surveys of TCCs, is carried out in a timely fashion. As this delegation has said many times, it is completely unreasonable that the UN system expects TCCs, my own country is an example, to subsidise the UN peacekeeping budget through an outdated and inadequate troop cost reimbursement rate which national pay scales have long since overtaken.
Fiji is firmly commited to continuing to serve the UN in peacekeeping operations wherever it is able to contribute. Fiji is very proud that it was able to rise to the occasion and respond to the urgent call of the UN last year in responding to an escalating situation in the Golan Heights, and to deploy over 500 personnel to that Mission in an extremely short timeframe, and that these troops have settled into their new environment well. Many of the points we have raised in our statement today arise from our experience deploying to the Golan Heights at a time of heightened risk to peacekeepers, and our perception that there is a need for enhanced support to TCCs in peacekeeping operations.
We look forward to carrying on the constructive discussions we have had on these matters, not just in the negotiations ahead in this Committee, but during the course of the year with relevant actors in the UN Peacekeeping community.
I thank you Madam Chair.