Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Mr.Dmitry Polyansky, First Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, at the Security Council on UN Peacekeeping operations

We would like to thank Under-SecretaryGeneral Jean-Pierre Lacroix for his assessment of the current state of United Nations peacekeeping.

We also thank the Force Commanders of the military components of the United Nations peacekeeping operations in Darfur, Mali and South Sudan for the updated briefings on the state of affairs in their missions.

We greatly value the efforts of peacekeepers working in difficult conditions and we would like to pay tribute to all who have given their lives for peace and stability. The security of peacekeeping contingents is an extremely important issue that we should focus on not only during the preparation of peacekeeping operations but throughout the work of the United Nations presence in a country. The type and nature of the problems in contemporary crises are constantly changing.

Peacekeeping operations are more often encountering terrorist attacks on civilian populations and peacekeepers and dealing with the effects of organized crime and the illegal trade in arms and drugs. The situations in the countries where missions are deployed and every theatre of operations have their own characteristics. The proliferation of such threats naturally causes experts and scientists to think seriously about the very concept of the work of the Blue Helmets, and the logic of their actions when it is impossible to distinguish civilians from militants or, for example, when a host country is unable to adequately protect civilians from new threats.

That way of thinking often gives rise to the same call, urging that all peacekeepers be given so-called robust mandates and additional intelligence-gathering and use-of-force capacities. We have already heard echoes of that thinking today. For our part, we believe, on the contrary, that in such circumstances peacekeepers should act extremely cautiously. After all, peacekeeping operations embody the ideals of the United Nations. Any mistake can have tragic consequences and undermine the Organization’s authority.

The Security Council, troop-contributing countries and host States need an objective assessment of the extent to which expanded mandates for the use of force enable real breakthroughs to be made in fulfilling mandates, and that is especially urgent in the light of the increase in casualties among peacekeepers in the worst trouble spots. Let us be blunt. The experience of missions with robust mandates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali is not very convincing so far. It has also raised a number of serious legal, technical, logistical and staffing issues that should be resolved in an intergovernmental format by the specialized agencies of the United Nations and with the direct participation of troop contributors.

We have to be realistic about this. An inability to find a workable response to the root causes of conflicts and the threat of terrorism should not automatically lead to strengthening peacekeepers’ mandates on the pretext that there are no other options. There are options. First, our approach to planning the mandates and peacekeepers’ operational work should be more intelligent and painstaking. We should not burden missions with irrelevant tasks that should be handled by specialized United Nations structures. They should focus on the priority issues — supporting the political process, strengthening host countries’ national capacity and ensuring security. I would like to hear about how that planning is being done in current conditions.

Furthermore, when preparing and conducting operations, it is important to take into account the views of troop-contributing countries and not to neglect the views and preferences of the local population, some of whom may be supporting armed groups, as in fact happened in the Central African Republic. We should not forget that such cases threaten the security of peacekeepers, civilians, humanitarian workers and country-team staff. Another important factor is ensuring that Blue Helmets are properly trained and have the appropriate equipment.

It is unforgivable to create a situation for which there is a robust mandate but where it takes too long to create the conditions in which it can be fulfilled. At this point I would like to touch on the active security of contingents and the collection and analysis of intelligence, which my British colleague spoke about. We believe that this kind of activity can be carried out only within the limits that have been agreed to by States — in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, with the consent of the host Government, and only for the specific purpose of ensuring the security of peacekeepers and the civilian population.

We cannot permit the use of intelligence-gathering means for any other purpose, including achieving the so-called political aims of the mandate. I want to particularly emphasize the importance of strict adherence to the basic principles of peacekeeping — the consent of the parties, impartiality and the non-use of force except in self-defence and in implementing the mandate of the Security Council. If these are not upheld in robust efforts or, especially, in preventive responses to virtual threats, peacekeepers could become directly drawn into conflicts.

We noted in particular that some of today’s briefers made references to the Cruz report. As far as I remember, Member States discussed it in the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations in March, but it was not approved. Some of its positions are contentious and arguable, and we see no reason to implement its recommendations.

We hope that Mr. Lacroix shares that point of view, and we would be grateful if he could clarify the situation. We also consider unacceptable the attempts by various countries to promote initiatives for United Nations peacekeeping that a small group of States have agreed on outside the United Nations.

The non-United Nations Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians, which permit the use of force against a host Government, are one such initiative. That would immediately make Blue Helmets a party to a conflict. One condition for the success of any peacekeeping operation is constructive and effective cooperation with the host country, which bears the primary responsibility both for the political process and for addressing the root causes of conflict, as well as for ensuring the security of its population, including protecting it from terrorist attacks.