Sexual Exploitation, Abuse Undermine Essential Trust, Speaker Says, as Fourth Committee Concludes Comprehensive Review
Delegates called for adequate resourcing of peacekeeping missions, informed by each situation on the ground, in order to avoid jeopardizing “Blue Helmets”, as the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) concluded its annual general debate on the comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects.
Zambia’s representative, noting the mounting pressures on resources, emphasized that the approach to peacekeeping must not be “penny‑wise and pound‑foolish”, pointing out that resources devoted to peace and security were not mere expenditure, but instead constituted an investment.
Echoing that sentiment, the representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said it was unfortunate that cuts in the force levels of various peacekeeping missions were not informed by situations on the ground. The Blue Helmets were therefore in jeopardy because such reductions had left them overstretched and vulnerable.
As such, the Gambia’s representative stressed, there was a need to provide more funding for peace operations, and to strengthen consultations with troop- and police‑contributing countries.
Agreeing, Myanmar’s representative stressed that operations must be tailored to the unique conditions of any given situation, taking local opinions and objectives into account. Mandates must be clearly defined, achievable and ultimately supportive of national efforts. However, she noted that sexual exploitation and abuse would undermine the essential trust between peacekeeping missions and the people they served. Myanmar supported the Secretary‑General’s “zero‑tolerance” policy in that regard. Citing the under‑representation of women in United Nations peace and security efforts, she called for a rebalancing of that ratio, saying that including women would make operations more effective and inclusive.
Nepal’s representative also emphasized the indispensable role of women in peacekeeping, including in terms of preventing and resolving conflict and mitigating its effects. With gender parity, peacekeeping missions became more compassionate and better able to ensure protection against sexual exploitation and abuse. As such, Nepal had employed inclusive policies to encourage more women to join its national security forces, he said.
Also speaking today were representatives of Algeria, Madagascar and Djibouti, as well as the Permanent Observer for the Holy See.
A representative of Australia, delivering a statement on his own behalf as well as for Canada and New Zealand, spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The Fourth Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 31 October, to begin its comprehensive review of special political missions.
SANN THIT YEE (Myanmar), associating herself with Non‑Aligned Movement and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said United Nations peacekeeping operations must adhere to the basic principles of the United Nations Charter. Operations must be tailored to the unique conditions on the ground in any given situation, taking local opinions and objectives into account. Mandates must be clearly defined and achievable, and ultimately supportive of national efforts. Sexual exploitation and abuse would undermine the essential trust between peacekeeping missions and the people they served, and Myanmar supported the Secretary‑General’s zero‑tolerance policy, she said. Citing the under‑representation of women in United Nations peace and security efforts, she called for a rebalancing of that ratio, saying that including women would make operations more effective and inclusive. She stressed that peacekeepers must be recruited on the basis of their conduct, not their country of origin.
SHANKER DAS BAIRAGI (Nepal), associating himself with Non‑Aligned Movement, recalled that his country had been contributing personnel to peacekeeping missions since 1958, having sent more than 130,000 peacekeepers. Nepal was currently the sixth largest troop‑contributing country with 5,289 peacekeepers in 14 missions. Emphasizing the crucial importance of clearly defined mandates with reliable exit strategies and command‑and‑control structures, he called for enhancing the capacity of peacekeepers to implement their mandates through training and orientation, recalling that Nepal had a modern peacekeeping training centre that could be developed into a regional centre of excellence. In April, it had co‑hosted the largest ever multi‑platoon training event, involving 26 countries, in addition to having conducted a regional seminar on capacity‑building and improving performance, he said. Recognizing the indispensable role of women in peacekeeping, including in preventing and resolving conflict and mitigating its effects, he said that with gender parity, peacekeeping missions became more compassionate and better able to ensure better protection for civilians against sexual exploitation and abuse. As such, Nepal had employed inclusive policies to encourage more women to join its national security forces.
MODEST JONATHAN MERO (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that the Organization was currently downsizing the force levels of various peacekeeping missions due to budgetary constraints. It was unfortunate that such reductions were not informed by situations on the ground, he said, pointing out that Blue Helmets were in jeopardy because reduced force levels had resulted in overstretch and vulnerability. He appealed for regular consultations with troop and police contributors in order to ensure that peacekeeping mandates were configured and realigned to address actual situations on the ground with adequate force levels and capabilities. Regarding allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, he commended the Secretary‑General’s continued efforts to curb that problem, and said that his country was fully committed to implementing his strategy in four areas: putting the rights and dignity of victims first; ending impunity; engaging civil society and external partners; and improving strategic communications for the sake of education and transparency. He said that his country’s Government had put a standing mechanism in place to ensure that all such cases were investigated and in compliance with the United Nations “zero‑tolerance” policy.
Ms. IGHIL (Algeria), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the Secretary‑General’s proposed reforms must be conducted in close consultation with Member States. Algeria supported the strategic review of peacekeeping operations, in order to determine whether they were able to fulfil their mandates. The persistence of sexual exploitation and abuse remained a source of major concern because that critical issue undermined the credibility of peacekeeping operations as well as that of the entire Organization, she said. Including more female officers and troops in peacekeeping operations would contribute help to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse, she observed. Algeria welcomed the Joint United Nations-African Union Framework for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security, she said, adding that it should be underpinned by mutual consultations between the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council. It should also be based on consultative decision‑making, joint analysis and assessment visits, monitoring, and evaluation, among others measures, as highlighted in Security Council resolution 2320 (2016).
MAMADOU TANGARA (Gambia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that smarter, more sustainable measures were needed to meet evolving threats to international peace and security. For peacekeeping efforts to succeed, long‑term solutions must be pursued through active political dialogue, economic recovery, security‑sector reform, and reconciliation programmes to lay the foundations for sustainable development. He stressed the need to provide more funding for peace operations and underlined the importance of strengthened consultations with troop- and police‑contributing countries. The Gambia strongly condemned the deliberate targeting of peacekeepers, he said, calling upon host countries to create suitable conditions for them. Applauding the provision of new protection tools and surveillance equipment, he nevertheless expressed hope that intelligence‑gathering equipment would only be used within the context of protecting civilians and peacekeeping personnel. As for the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse, the Gambia was appalled that cases continued to surface from the field, he said, urging troop- and police‑contributing countries to hold accused officers accountable within their national jurisdictions without delay. The Gambia’s own peacekeeping officers were subjected to gender‑sensitivity training before deployment, he noted.
LILA NADIA ANDRIANANTOANDRO (Madagascar), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said her delegation supported the Secretary‑General’s proposed reforms, adding that all relevant parties must give him their unfailing support in that pursuit. Madagascar had deployed officers to peacekeeping missions in Mali, Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti, she said. Regional partnerships would allow peacekeeping responses to be more rapid and effective in the field, she said, adding that Madagascar welcomed the Joint United Nations-African Union Framework for an Enhanced Partnership in Peace and Security. She called upon the international community to prioritize that partnership since 60 per cent of peacekeeping operations were in Africa. Madagascar also called for a better balance in terms of gender since women played a crucial role in peace processes. Emphasizing that sustainable development could only occur in times of peace, she said the prevention of conflict should be prioritized during the review of operations. She condemned aggression toward peacekeeping personnel as well as sexual exploitation and abuse, saying they tarnished the efforts of United Nations peacekeepers.
LAZAROUS KAPAMBWE (Zambia), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said the nature of conflict had changed since the inception of the current peace and security architecture, which therefore needed to adapt. The root causes of instability, which often lay in social and economic underdevelopment, must be addressed. “As long as we have ‘them and us’ — the poor, the exploited, the underdeveloped on the one hand, and the rich, the developed, the privileged on the other hand — there cannot be sustainable peace and security in the world,” he stressed. As for the mounting pressure on resources, he said the approach must not be “penny‑wise and pound‑foolish”, noting that the resources devoted to peace and security were not merely an expenditure, but an investment. In closing, he said that, according to statistics, it was human solidarity that was in deficit rather than the world’s resources.
SAADA DAHER HASSAN (Djibouti), associating herself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted that the Horn of Africa region faced immense security perils, as illustrated by the large African Union and United Nations peacekeeping operations deployed there, especially in Somalia and South Sudan. The Organization alone could not tackle such challenges, she said, emphasizing that strategic partnerships would help to ensure better understanding of the operational environment. As such, Djibouti welcomed the Joint United Nations‑African Union Framework as well as Security Council resolution 2378 (2017), she said, adding that the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) represented a good example of the strength of such partnerships, since Somalia was back on a peaceful trajectory and had been able to hold two democratic elections. However, the security situation there remained fragile, she observed, recalling the recent killing of 300 people in a Mogadishu bombing attack. Terrorists like Al‑Shabaab posed a threat to the entire region, she said, adding that Djibouti had therefore decided to deploy up to 2,000 men and women to AMISOM.
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said that protecting civilians should be one of the central elements of peacekeeping mandates. A sure way to make it so was through the preventive strategy of arms control, he said, renewing the Holy See’s call upon arms producers and States to place strict limits on the manufacture, sale, and gifting of weapons later used to terrorize civilians or destroy infrastructure. He recognized the vital role that women could play in mediation and preventive diplomacy to stop the outbreak of war, and in reconciling, rehabilitating and rebuilding post‑war societies and avoiding relapse into conflict. As such, the Holy See stressed the importance of women’s full participation as active agents of peace and security, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations must continue to ensure that the prevention of sexual abuse against women and children was fully integrated into the planning of peacekeeping operations.
Right of Reply
The representative of Australia, speaking also for Canada and New Zealand, said United Nations operations must observe the purposes and principles of peacekeeping. Concerned about how those principles were expressed in some national and group statements — particularly the regular omission of the principle that the use of force was justified only in self‑defence or defence of the mandate — he warned that any expression of that principle without that latter element was inaccurate and risked undermining the security of peacekeepers in the field. The three principles in their entirety provided for full and proper implementation of peacekeeping mandates, he said, stressing that anything less would set missions and troops up to fail.