Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Anna Evstigneeva at UNSC briefing on peacekeeping operations


We thank USG Lacroix and heads of military components of UN missions: Lieutenant General Mohan Subramanian, Force Commander of UNMISS; Lieutenant General Otávio Rodrigues De Miranda Filho, Force Commander for MONUSCO; and Major General Aroldo Lázaro Sáenz, Head of Mission and Force Commander of UNIFIL, for their insights.

We consider protection of civilians to be an inalienable component of UN peace operations. At the same time, we cannot agree with the frequently articulated opinion that protection of civilian population is a goal in itself for the peacekeeping. The need to protect civilians arises from presence of conflicts. Only once their root causes are eliminated, can safety of civilians be guaranteed effectively. Assistance with protection is always a provisional measure, which should give enough time to look for a political-diplomatic solution. The history of conflicts in various regions of the world has proven that it is the thorough and painstaking political and mediator efforts underpinning activities of peacekeeping missions that help to address the root causes of controversies rather than treat their symptoms. Otherwise crises may recur, even after a respite.

We are also convinced that no one can protect civilians better than the state. This is an area of responsibility of national governments and their security bodies. In this connection, if peacekeeping missions have a mandate for the protection of civilians, it must be implemented comprehensively and in close cooperation with host country authorities, local communes and relevant humanitarian organizations.

Hand in hand with these activities, there should be efforts to promote a security sector reform and enhance training of security bodies, because without capacity building and professional training of these authorities no lasting results can be achieved. Unfortunately, this track may be paid insufficient attention, which may lead to a longer stay of peacekeeping missions in countries of deployment. Another negative factor is a lack of coordination of efforts among international and bilateral partners, which occurs rather frequently.

We believe some extra thought should be given to the question whether the mandates of peacekeeping missions in the area of protection of civilians are realistic enough. In recent years, this task has expanded significantly and started to include three clusters. It is not only physical protection, but also peacebuilding programs and human rights monitoring, including gender issues, prevention of sexual violence, etc. Whether this boosts efficiency is a big question. But this definitely drives up the expectations of the population, which, unfortunately, may fail to be met. Protection of civilians by the peacekeepers in camps, including IDP camps, cannot be a lasting and reliable solution, and may create more problems in the future. Security Council bears a huge part of responsibility in this regard, because it articulates tasks for the missions which the peacekeepers, despite their dedicated efforts, turn out unable to fulfil within their existing capacities. Therefore, the penholders of relevant files together with the Secretariat and missions on the ground must demonstrate a responsible approach.

Such unfulfilled expectations of the population often give rise to criticism of peacekeeping presences, which many relate to disinformation or false information against peacekeepers. The problem of hate speech and false information regarding both the peacekeepers and the population is nothing new. We are convinced that establishment of a constructive interaction with the host side, as well as trust-based contacts, first of all with governments and local populations, and proper communication strategies will constitute a key tool to respond to this challenge.

We think that more realistic, clear, and feasible mandates will bolster effectiveness of missions and mitigate a lack of resources that may be diffused to address non-core tasks.

As for early warning and response systems, as well as latest technology at large, those can be used to ensure safety of peacekeepers and civilians. At the same time, when introducing such technologies, sovereignty of the host country and its neighbors must be upheld, as well as inviolability of private life of their citizens. This work must proceed not only from protecting data against falling in third hands, but also from the absolute need to double check veracity of all incoming and outgoing information.

In conclusion, we would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all peacekeepers who serve with dignity and perform their noble duty in extremely difficult and dangerous conditions, risking their lives on a daily basis. We extend our condolences to Ghana and all other states and the families of those peacekeepers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Thank you.

Video of the statement