Statement by H.E. Ambassador Vitaly I. Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, during the Security Council Meeting on the United Nations peacekeeping operations
We welcome the presence of the Foreign Secretary of Pakistan, Mr. Jilani, to preside over today’s open meeting on peacekeeping operations.
United Nations peacekeeping activities are facing tremendous challenges today. The geography of conflicts is expanding and their external influence growing. Destabilization in one country threatens a spillover of weapons and the movement of fighting and terrorists into neighbouring States.
Many peacekeeping operations are deployed in situations where the internal political crises are far from over and peacekeepers therefore need to take on functions which States cannot fully perform in the aftermath of the most heightened phase of a conflict.
The Security Council is reacting to the changing international situation by giving peacekeeping operations more comprehensive and multidimensional mandates. It is our view that they must remain realistic and achievable in the field and have objectives that, if met, will help to overcome the causes of the conflict and to re-establish a firm peace.
In such situations, assistance in the areas of security sector reform, demobilization, reintegration, disarmament and demining all are of key importance. Closely related to that is the need to restore the rule of law in post-conflict countries.
The contribution of the Blue Helmets in dealing with such challenges can hardly be overestimated, because when a situation deteriorates they are the first to arrive, and their presence, knowledge and experience represents an important component of efforts to normalize and stabilize the situation.
In the process of drawing down peacekeeping operations, conditions must be created that are conducive to long-term political stabilization and socioeconomic development. In doing so, it is imperative to abide — not in words but in deeds — by the principles of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of postconflict States and of the recognition of the national responsibility for peacebuilding, and priority must be given to the area of national capacity-building.
Of course, peacekeeping operations cannot fully take upon themselves the responsibility for long-term peacebuilding and must coordinate their work with other important players, the Peacebuilding Commission
and regional organizations, funds and programmes.
In connection with United Nations peacekeeping, we would like to draw attention to several issues. Each peacekeeping operation is unique, and its mandate is determined by the Council for each specific situation. We deem counterproductive, and in some cases even dangerous, the broadening interpretation of Council mandates by both individual States and the Secretariat, which prepares guidelines and instructions for missions. In that respect, there should be no generalized approach.
As important as the protection of civilians is, we believe that it must not overshadow other important challenges in the context of the mandates of peacekeeping operations. We are equally concerned at the trend towards an arbitrary interpretation of the norms of international humanitarian law for the protection of civilians in armed conflict and their application to the responsibility to protect. It is unacceptable to use issues related to the protection of civilians and overall human rights to achieve political goals, especially as a pretext for interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States.
We call for extreme caution and for discussions on strengthening mandates and increasing the operational capability of peacekeepers with respect to the use of force and intimidation. Peacekeeping operations have a unique kind of legitimacy, so it would be dangerous for both United Nations peacekeeping operations and the United Nations system overall if a situation were to arise in which the Blue Helmets transcended their neutrality and were drawn into an internal political conflict, providing support to one of the participants.
The safety of peacekeepers must be an absolute priority. Recently, in South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army shot down a Russian helicopter with four Russian nationals on board who were working on contract with the United Nations Mission in that country. That incident is a tragic reminder of the responsibility of States where United Nations peacekeeping missions are deployed to ensure their security and to ensure favourable conditions so as to enable them to meet their objectives. The safety of peacekeepers must be unconditional and a priority in the management of peacekeeping operations. We are not pleased with the very slow pace of the investigation of that incident. We anticipate that the Secretariat and the South Sudanese authorities will take measures to speed up its careful investigation and that the perpetrators will be brought to justice. It is necessary to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in South Sudan or anywhere else.
Peacekeeping operations will be successful if their efforts are in line with the Charter of the United Nations and the norms of international law, with unfailing observance of the principle of the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security, and based on the degree of our collective preparedness to invest in the Organization’s knowledge base, resources and personnel.
We thank the delegation of Pakistan for the initiative of holding this meeting today, and we support the draft resolution (S/2013/27) it has submitted, of which we are also a sponsor.