Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva at UNSC debate ‘Integrating effective resilience-building in peace operations for sustainable peace’
Minister Botchwey, we welcome your personal participation in this meeting as President of the Council. We very much appreciate the contribution of your country, a champion of pan-African agenda, in the UN peacekeeping efforts and protection of Africa’s interests. We thank Secretary-General Guterres and Assistant Secretary-General Pobee, as well as AU Commissioner Adeoye for the briefings. We closely followed the remarks by Ms. Mary Robinson and Ms. Karin Landgren.
First, we would like to note the noble mission that the Blue Helmets carry out every day in extremely difficult and dangerous conditions, risking their lives. We pay tribute to all peacekeepers of the UN, the African Union and regional organizations who are drawing their duties honorably. We also express our condolences to the states and families of those killed in action.
United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKOs) continue to be one of the main instruments of maintaining international peace and security. But, more importantly, millions of people continue to pin their hopes on them to stop hostilities, protect civilians, help national authorities establish control over the territory and strengthen state institutions in order to establish a peaceful life, provide social services and thus create conditions for economic recovery.
The changing nature and specifics of modern conflicts, complicated by terrorist threats (including cross-border threats), dire humanitarian and socio-economic situations, pose a challenge to the international community - how to adapt existing mechanisms to modern realities or what new solutions to offer?
Discussion of ways to optimize efforts for the maintenance of peace and security is a very important and topical aspect. At the same time, we are convinced that all discussions need to be centered around the imperative of finding political decisions based on a shared understanding of the causes of conflicts. When the goal is not defined, it is difficult to choose the means. Unfortunately, there are situations where opinions on these issues differ significantly, and not only between the opposing sides, but also among the main regional or interested extra-regional stakeholders, as well as in the UN Security Council. Without a political solution, it is impossible to agree on a clear and realistic mandate, win the confidence of the host state, and ensure effective support for regional efforts.
One of the consequences of these disagreements is that in some parts of the world, regional or bilateral options are being sought in the absence of results from the UN presence. UN peacekeeping operations remain deployed for many years, sometimes for decades. PKO mandates expand due to various secondary and non-core tasks of a human rights, social, gender and climate nature. Peacekeeping operations run the risk of becoming embedded in the domestic political context, becoming part of the conflict management process rather than an instrument for its resolution. As a result, and we have seen this more and more often lately, there is growing public frustration over the way peacekeepers carry out their mandate. However, in essence, the cause of the problems is the discrepancy between the ends and means and therefore people’s inflated expectations. In addition, the "diversification" of modern PKOs makes it more difficult for them to focus on the main priorities, because different units within the same mission can see their tasks in different ways. Unfortunately, in many country-specific situations we see a mentoring approach to solving purely domestic political problems, which only worsens the relations.
Given the exacerbating terrorist threats in many regions of the world, including in Africa, a discussion has recently intensified on how to counter this challenge. We believe that there should be no illusions that UN peacekeeping operations can take on this burden. This problem also requires a military solution, and it can only be provided by national efforts, if required, with bilateral or regional assistance. In Africa – and we have talked about this many times – there are cases where, given a common understanding of purpose and trust-based cooperation, significant results have been achieved. But this was possible only when all the countries of the region affected by the problem agreed on how, when and by what means they would ward off the terrorists. When considering the situation in West Africa, in the Sahel, where this problem is now particularly acute, we must not forget that all countries must be united in their commitment to overcome this peril, even if they have political differences.
Regional efforts can be successful only when they are based on a common assessment by the countries of the region of the existing threats and ways to overcome them, as well as the willingness to bear risks in responding to those threats, the creation of a coherent and effective command and control system based on trust and cooperation. As for financing methods, no matter which of them may seem the most suitable, in all instances the initiating countries should always have enough room for their own political decisions (without external dictation) with regard to countering threats. We believe it is justified for the African states to raise the issue of providing financial assistance from the UN and are ready to discuss this.
The Concept Note for this debate rightly underscores that conflict prevention and settlement may be impeded by longstanding problems: the lack of socio-economic development and education, growing share of the youth in the society, consequences of climatic changes and other factors. UN assistance in these areas is absolutely justified and needed more than ever. At the same time, we are convinced that it is important to clearly understand which UN institutions can be most effective in solving these problems.
UN peacekeeping operations can take pointed peacebuilding efforts within the mandate. For example, in promoting the security sector reform, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, in increasing the training of national personnel at the tracks that the host country deems important. However, they cannot completely cover these needs. The main role should be played by the relevant UN bodies and international financial institutions. We also agree that the Peacebuilding Commission, whose recommendations have been received for the current meeting should act as a link to connect security issues and socio-economic development. But here, too, it is important to proceed from the national priorities of countries, the root causes of conflicts and country specifics.