UK Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant on UN Peacekeeping Operations

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“Let me pay tribute to men and women serving under all banners on peace and security operations”UK Statement by Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant at Open Debate On “Peacekeeping Operations: United Nations And Regional Partnerships In Peacekeeping And Its Evolution”

Mr President

Thank you for convening this timely open debate. One of the biggest strategic issues the Security Council faces is its relationship with regional organisations. These relationships are constantly evolving. We are grateful to Rwanda for this opportunity to take stock of the peacekeeping partnerships, reflect on the progress we’ve made and anticipate the challenges ahead and I thank the Secretary-General and the briefers from the European Union and the African Union for their contributions this morning.

Mr President,

The founders of the United Nations originally envisaged a standing UN army. This proved unrealistic. Yet the need for rapidly deployable, adequately trained, equipped and financed troops has increased considerably since 1945. In the face of a multitude of African conflicts, the United Nations has turned, in particular, to the continent of Africa as a critical partner. And in response to this, the maxim “African led solutions to African problems” was developed. The United Kingdom welcomes the aspiration behind this maxim.

Mr President

Such partnerships have brought many advantages to international and regional peace and security efforts. Over the last decade, ten African Union and Regional Missions have deployed. African contributions to UN peacekeeping missions have increased from roughly 10,000 troops in 2003 to more than 30,000 in 2013. The Africa Standby Force (ASF) was developed and achieved notable milestones including an annual continental training programme. Good progress has also been made towards developing a quick reaction force inside the ASF.

Troops in African-led missions are often demonstrate the sort proactive peacekeeping required in modern threat environments. I have in mind, in particular, the troops deployed in AMISOM in Somalia and MISCA in the Central African Republic. Such troops have the attitude and skills necessary for the effective protection of civilians in terrains teeming with spoilers.

Nonetheless, there is still progress to be made in the African Union and other regional organisations’ development of policy, guidance and training in key areas such as child protection and the prevention of sexual and gender based violence. We very much welcome the Framework of Cooperation signed between the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict and the African Union earlier this year. This demonstrates real commitment to evolve standards and practices and we urge its speedy implementation.

Mr President

Having highlighted some good progress, we should also reflect on two key challenges which threaten the delivery of rapidly deployable, adequately trained, equipped and financed troops.

First, financial resources pose a huge challenge. A key limitation to African capability on peace and security is the lack of access to adequate, timely and predictable financing for peace support operations. This creates a brake on African Union missions, and for Regional Economic Communities’ activities as well. The African Union’s overwhelming dependence on outside partners for its operational budget is a significant constraint on the ‘African Solutions’ narrative. This issue is rising up the African agenda and as the resolution we adopted today reiterates, regional organisations have a responsibility to secure human, financial, logistical and other resources for their organisations. In the absence of a ready solution, the United Kingdom is pleased that the European Union has been able to be a supporting partner to AMISOM and MISCA, through the African Peace Facility. But this cannot go on forever. A better means of financing African peace support operations and more sustainable financial arrangements must be found. If African nations are serious about taking greater responsibility for solving the continents problems, they need to be prepared to devote more of their own resources to the task.

Secondly, the transition of African missions to UN peacekeeping operations raises a number of challenges. In Mali, we saw a failure to deploy critical enablers ahead of troops, an inability to raise the number of troops deployed or to deploy them at sufficient pace. We need to learn the lessons for the Central African Republic where difficulties are also looming ahead of the 15 September handover date to MINUSCA. We therefore welcome the request in resolution 2167 for a full lessons learned exercise for both transitions. The challenges of re-hatting an African Union mission into a UN one is yet to be resolved.

Mr President,

Looking beyond the African Union, the United Kingdom also commends the increasing cooperation between NATO and the UN in the sharing of doctrine, training and best practice. The “traditional” peacekeeping model of an inter-positional force has been superseded by a more multi dimensional model, often with Protection of Civilians at its core. The UN Secretariat should continue to forge close ties with organisations able and willing to share their expertise and comparative advantages.

Mr President,

I wish to highlight two important aspects of the resolution we adopted today. First, a comprehensive review of UN peacekeeping which the Secretary-General announced in June and referenced this morning. The relationship with regional organisations will, no doubt, form a key element of this review. We encourage the Secretary-General to be bold in his vision, whilst ensuring concrete gains for peacekeeping. In particular, we need to strategically assess which of the 7 current different models of UN peacekeeping are most fit for purpose and ensure that we use them in the right circumstances. Second, I am pleased to note the encouragement to greater engagement between the African Union Peacekeeping Support Team within DPKO and the UN Office to the African Union. Partnerships should be operational as well as strategic.

Mr President,

Finally, let me end by paying tribute to men and women serving under all banners on peace and security operations. These individuals make up the forces of the United Nations, the African Union, European Union and other regional missions. They demonstrate on a daily basis the importance of working in close partnership to maintain peace and security in the most perilous of locations. The risks they take to make our world a safer place must never be forgotten.

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