Statement By H.E. Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative Of The Republic Of Fiji To The United Nations, Special Committee On Peacekeeping Operations

New York
Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Madam Chair,

Allow me to begin with congratulations to you Madam Chair, for your leadership of this Committee, including through the guidance given in your opening statement yesterday. I would also like to thank the Under Secretaries-General for DPKO and for DFS for their statements providing detailed overviews of all progress in policies relating to UN peacekeeping operations. All three statements have provided much to consider for our Committee, and I trust that Committee will be able to progress these issues through its work.

Allow me also to welcome Papua New Guinea as the newest Member of our Committee.

Madam Chair,

The Under Secretaries General highlighted the challenges being faced in the management and implementation of UN peacekeeping operations. It is imperative therefore that this Committee be able to respond to the challenges we face, and to provide the necessary policy guidance. This will require responsive and nimble operations of the Committee. In this respect, the Committee must remain seized of further implementation of the decision on working methods taken in the 2012 session of the Committee, including in the area of agenda generation. The suggestion you made in your own statement of rotation in the Bureau could also be addressed through this process. Such positive change should also result in a Committee that does not get bogged down in negotiations of a report alone, as was the case last year. My delegation will work constructively in the negotiations in the hope that the Committee will conclude its work on the reduced number of items for negotiation this year within the time allotted to the Committee.

Madame Chair

As we examine peacekeeping operations today in this Committee, the peace and prosperity that we strive for is a far-off prospect in many parts of the world suffering conflict. The conflicts in Syria, Mali, the DRC and Somalia continue to challenge us in terms of finding appropriate and effective multilateral responses. The UN also continues to manage a number of UN peacekeeping missions in areas of "frozen" conflicts, where the situation has not changed for many years, and progress towards transitions is limited.   We must do our utmost to ensure that people living in all these situations do not continue living in an environment of conflict, and the consequent lack of opportunities.

The picture is, however, not all bleak. After six years of operations, the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), was able to close down its operations, and the UN presence in Timor-Leste shift to one more focused on development. Lessons learnt in this process will no doubt be relevant for the future. As highlighted by a number of countries in the Security Council's Open debate on multidimensional peacekeeping on 21 January organised by Pakistan, the time to think about transitions is at the time of mandate formulation.

I would like to thank Pakistan for having organised the Open debate on multidimensional peacekeeping. This was an example of cooperation between the SC and the wider membership including TCCs/PCCs, allowing TCCs/PCCs to express their concerns on the need for clear and achievable mandates, clear tasking, and clear exit strategies to the Council. As far as cooperation between the different bodies of the UN are concerned, the policy guidance given by this Committee should, in turn, assist the SC and Secretariat in understanding views of peacekeeping practitioners who we represent.

Madam Chair,

As peacekeeping evolves in response to the nature of conflict, we find that in addition to the need to protect civilians during and after the cessation of the primary conflict, not just civilians but the UN itself can be targets of those who wish to continue destabilising a country. Protection or guarding of UN operations is becoming a part of UN field missions, and is a factor in the peacekeeping-peacebuilding nexus. Thus far, the experience we have of TCCs providing guard units has been within DPA-led missions, and these troops have reporting channels through DSS. Oversight of this will be an item in the consideration of the newly created agenda item in the 4th committee on Special Political Missions. We raise the issue in this Committee nonetheless because such guard units, although in DPA missions, work to DPKO military conditions. We also believe that such guard units may well become a part of new UN peacekeeping missions with complex mandates, and this Committee will need to address the issue going forward. We must ensure that the UN is not deterred from operating wherever it needs to, as per mandates, in the service of those societies.

Madam Chair,

Fiji's commitment to UN peacekeeping is steadfast. We will continue to provide our soldiers, police officers, and now our corrections officers to UN missions in the service of peace and security. The long-standing issue of equitable troop cost reimbursements is one that has affected Fiji negatively, in that it costs Fiji far more to send its soldiers and police officers than the UN reimburses Fiji.  The system of troop cost reimbursements needs to be renewed, and we note the report of the Senior Advisory Group on this issue, which is to be addressed soon. While it is the 5th committee which will address the resource implications of the report, there are also some policy implications of the recommendations contained therein, particularly as relates to the management of Contingent Owned Equipment. We look forward to the timely consideration and decisions of all aspects of the SAG report by all relevant UN bodies.

Madam Chair,

Fiji fully shares the view that the involvement of women in keeping and maintaining peace is crucial for the sustainability of any peace operation. In this respect, Fiji highlights the importance of a gendered approach to peacekeeping taking root through gender mainstreaming across all mission components in peacekeeping missions. Guidance from the missions and UNHQ should be in the form of clear instructions or single policy manuals, rather than a multitude of duplicative, generic or voluminous modules which mission staff (civilian or military) working in other areas have little time to digest. The same applies to training manuals in other areas of guidance - they must be streamlined, and address operational challenges.

Fiji is also supportive of increasing the number of female Police officers being sent as UNPOLs to peacekeeping missions, particularly in view of their role working in communities. Fiji has therefore made a special effort in nominating female police officers, and in one rotation in 2012 achieved a 60% female nomination rate. Despite the small size of Fiji's Police Force, and domestic needs notwithstanding, we will continue to nominate women officers whenever possible. We see their role working in the communities and building up capacities of local police officers as crucial enabling factors for towards transitions to national authorities.

It is, after all, Madam Chair, our job as part of the UN peacekeeping community to do whatever we can to "work ourselves out of a job". Our success will not be measured by the number of UN peacekeeping operations active, or by the number of our troops on the ground, but in the number of areas where we have assisted the society from conflict to development. It will be judged by where we have intervened successfully and left a country standing on its own two feet, as much as by where the UN failed to act at all. It is up to us, together with the Security Council which gives the mandate for peacekeeping missions, that we bear these two situations in mind in all that we do.

Allow me as always to end by paying tribute to all peacekeepers around the world, and particularly to those who have paid for their service with their lives, including one of Fiji's own serving in UNAMI in 2012.

I thank you Madam Chair.

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