Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

2 November 2012 - Statement to the United Nations General Assembly Fourth Committee


2 November 2012

Peacekeeping Operations

Statement by Colonel Roger Barrett, Military Attaché of the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations on behalf of Australia, Canada and New Zealand (CANZ)


Mr. Chairman,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the CANZ group of countries – Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
CANZ would like to note the participation of Ms. Ameerah Haq in our discussion yesterday and to extend her a formal and warm welcome, as Under-Secretary General for the Department of Field Support. CANZ wishes to highlight that Mme Haq’s position will be key to bringing about an agenda for reform in the field of peacekeeping. Her operational credentials are impressive and she can count on the full support of the CANZ membership. I would also like to thank her and the Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Monsieur Hervé Ladsous for their informative presentations and dialogue with Member States.

Mr. Chairman,

UN peacekeeping relies on the tireless work of men and women who are willing to deploy into difficult situations. CANZ wishes to pay tribute to all the men and women who have died or been injured in the course of conducting these often complex and challenging missions. Their sacrifice is a reminder of the importance of the issues that we are discussing here today.

Mr. Chairman,

For missions to be effective, they require planning, preparation and partnership. A comprehensive approach to mission planning is required to ensure mission mandates are clear and achievable, and that they have the resources and capabilities required to implement them. Peacekeepers need to be provided with the necessary guidance and training to prepare them for their roles and responsibilities in the field. And an active partnership between all stakeholders – the host government, Security Council, Secretariat, and Member States – is needed to raise awareness of ground realities, manage expectations, and support the overall goals of the mission.

Mr. Chairman,

CANZ welcomes the substantial progress made in the last couple of years to develop and operationalize the Protection of Civilians in peacekeeping operations. We support the progress in designing the tools needed to support peacekeepers in their efforts to protect civilians, including training modules on the “Protection of Civilians and prevention and response to conflict-related sexual violence”; a framework to assist with the development of mission-specific strategies, and a matrix to assist in the identification of the necessary resources and capabilities. Attention must continue to focus on the rollout and operationalization of these tools, as well as evaluating their impact in the field.

There are often high expectations of uniformed personnel when it comes to protecting civilians from the imminent threat of violence. CANZ welcomes ongoing work to develop further baseline guidance for military and police components, which we hope will assist them in undertaking these responsibilities. Civil affairs officers, community liaison assistants, joint protection teams, and community alert networks, perform a vital role in understanding the needs of the local communities and providing early warning of the threats they face. Such innovative practices provide valuable lessons. CANZ welcomes efforts to share these best practices and lessons learned from the field.

When a peacekeeping mission is deployed with a protection of civilians mandate, the responsibility to protect the civilian population remains, first and foremost, with the host government. Planning is required to ensure sufficient attention and resources are devoted to building the capacity of the host authorities. Tasks such as security sector reform and strengthening rule of law institutions are central to protection efforts in the longer term.
Mr. Chairman, (Peacekeeping Transition, Nexus of peacekeeping and peacebuilding).
In addition to protecting civilians, peacekeepers serve as early peacebuilders in many other areas, completing tasks that support political processes, security sector reform and capacity building. CANZ welcomes the development of the strategy on early peacebuilding support tasks for peacekeepers and encourages the better articulation of the types of tasks that peacekeepers can undertake to support peacebuilding efforts. It is important that all actors coordinate effectively on early peacebuilding tasks undertaken within a mission. Planning should be conducted throughout the mission lifecycle to ensure a smooth transition following a mission’s departure. Such planning and coordination must be guided by the host nation to ensure strong national ownership and responsiveness to local needs.

Lastly, appropriate Rule of Law elements must exist within a Mission, and need to be addressed in a cohesive and timely manner. Also, in order to sustain the early gains , it is imperative that the United Nations and Member States ensure a smooth transition out of peacekeeping into a reconfigured United Nations presence. In this context, CANZ welcomes efforts to enhance and consolidate United Nations support for Rule of Law through the establishment of a joint focal point arrangement between DPKO and UNDP.

Mr. Chairman,

CANZ maintains the importance of accurately take into account women’s experiences of conflict, as well as that of girls and boys. Regrettably, we have witnessed a dramatic decrease in the percentage of women in senior positions in political, peacebuilding and peacekeeping missions of the UN. We have further seen sexual violence, including rape as a weapon of war, and the threat of sexual violence continues to be used as a weapon of conflict in places like Cote d’Ivoire, the DRC, Libya, Syria and northern Mali.

Actions can be taken to address this situation. For example, this means ensuring the inclusion of clear instructions, directives and guidance on the protection of the human rights of women and girls in the operational directives of peacekeeping missions. This also includes the implementation of women, peace and security resolutions within the framework of mission drawdown and transitions. CANZ looks forward to the implementation of DPKO’s forward-looking strategy on women, peace and security, and the further deployment of women protection advisors in the field.

Mr. Chairman,

The most valuable resources to any mission are its people and the important skills and capabilities they bring to each mission. CANZ supports the ongoing efforts being made by the UN Police Division, including through the regional consultations with PCCs, to standardise the roles of Police within the Mission environment through the Strategic Guidance Framework. Of course standardised roles are only as effective as the Officers deployed within a Mission. With the developing sophistication of United Nations Police activity, it is essential that the basic selection standards for Officers being deployed across UN Missions keep pace with performance expectations.

Mr. Chairman,

Peacekeepers frequently deploy into environments that pose a risk to their safety and security, as well as the populations they are frequently mandated to protect. To support their preparation, CANZ recognises the need for continued dialogue and progress on deterrence, use of force, and operational readiness. CANZ looks forward to further progress regarding the development of guidance on deterrence and use of force, as well as the conceptual framework for the operational readiness evaluation of military contingents and force headquarters.

Personnel also require mobility to effectively address these threats, often over extremes of terrain and distance. CANZ considers that generating resources and sustaining them over the course of the missions’ mandates remains a critical challenge that needs to be addressed. Shortage of military helicopters in MONUSCO and UNMISS are a clear indication of the challenges that the UN is facing in its biggest missions, especially when it relates to critical priority mandated tasks, including the protection of civilians.

Critical enablers that provide mobility and assist with gathering timely and accurate information not only assist with the implementation of mission mandates, but more importantly, provide vital support to enhance the safety and security of personnel.

CANZ believes that modern technologies, including short take-off and landing aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles, should be considered when assessing mission capability and resource requirements. Such technologies should be implemented in a transparent manner, in consultation with the host government. CANZ looks forward to the Secretariat’s proposals in this regard.

Mr. Chairman,

In the context of the establishment of a “capability-driven approach”, CANZ is also interested in completing the development and implementation of component-specific approaches to the development of baseline capability standards, in particular related to infantry battalions, staff officers and medical support units. CANZ looks forward to training materials in support of these pilot projects being finalized and delivered to peacekeeping training institutes and Member States. We also encourage the Secretariat to consider other components of peacekeeping that would benefit from the establishment of capability standards.

CANZ welcomes the ongoing work of the UN Secretariat to develop training materials and standards to support Member States deploying troops and police to missions, as well as to further professionalise the work of civilian personnel, including civil affairs officers. We look forward to receiving an update on the peacekeeping training needs assessment in the near future. We hope the assessment will assist in developing a comprehensive, coherent and coordinated approach to peacekeeping training among Member States, training institutes, and the UN Secretariat.

Mr. Chairman,

As operations inherently rely upon support activities to maximize effectiveness, CANZ believes that the Global Field Support Strategy (GFSS) has already proven its worth in improving support timeliness, efficiency and accountability of peacekeeping operations. Nonetheless, the GFSS would clearly benefit from an end state vision before finalising certain of its key elements.

In this regard, CANZ supports Ms.Haq’s approach to wait until the current Regional Service Centre in Entebbe has demonstrated its strengths, before implementing further regional service centres. While we understand that the challenges of the C-34 to conclude its report has somewhat disturbed regular bimonthly scheduled briefings to the C-34 on the GFSS implementation, it would be useful for the Secretariat to resume these regular briefings. In this context, CANZ is looking forward to the upcoming third GFSS progress report.

Mr. Chairman,
We continue to see the value of partnerships among all stakeholders to ensuring the overall success of UN peacekeeping. CANZ welcomes the conclusion of a final report by the Senior Advisory Group on troop reimbursement rates and other related issues. We hope it will have a positive impact on our collective ability to deal effectively with the numerous peacekeeping policy issues that require our attention.

As this year’s C-34 consultations demonstrated, our annual C-34 reports are increasingly lengthier, and consensus has become more difficult. CANZ believes the C-34 has an important contribution to make to the overall direction of UN peacekeeping policy. We have had considerable time this year to reflect on our current working methods and what we want the Special Committee to achieve. We need to continue our dialogue on these issues in the coming months to ensure that our previous challenges in finalising our annual reports do not have a detrimental impact on the overall direction of peacekeeping policy and our operations in the field.

Thank you for your attention.