Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

19 February 2013 - Statement to United Nations General Assembly Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations

Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations

19 February 2013

Statement to the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations

Statement by H.E. Mr Gary Quinlan
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
of Australia to the United Nations

on behalf Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CANZ)



Madam Chair

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the CANZ group of countries – Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

We thank Under-Secretaries-General Hervé Ladsous and Ameerah Haq for their statements today. They provide a solid foundation for the discussions that will take place in this committee. We thank you for your ongoing engagement with Member States on the important work you and your teams are doing.

We welcome the most recent Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the recommendations of the Special Committee from last year. We agree that this Committee “has a critical role in strengthening and improving peacekeeping, in particular as a forum that brings together a diverse set of stakeholders”. Efforts to reach consensus will always be difficult, but the process is just as important as reaching consensus on a final report. We look forward to working with all members this year to collectively strengthen UN peacekeeping. Continuing to improve the working methods of this committee will form an important part of that overall effort. We welcome the work of the Bureau and the Chair of the Working Group to that end.

Peacekeeping must remain a flexible and dynamic tool that can be responsive and adaptable to a range of situations, whether observing the implementation of ceasefires, as in Lebanon; applying force to deter threats to civilians in Haiti, the DRC or Darfur; or building the capacity of host government security institutions in Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia or South Sudan.

CANZ would like to draw attention to three areas of ongoing effort: matching the right capabilities, skills and expertise to the needs of a mission; preparing missions to respond to crises and threats; and addressing short term security needs and longer term capacity development.

1. Matching Skills and Expertise to Needs

Madam Chair,

We must continue to ensure that we are providing peacekeeping missions with the right capabilities, resources, training and guidance to carry out their mandates effectively. The capability driven approach is an essential part of this effort.

The recent finalisation of the Infantry Battalion Manual and Staff Officer training materials, as well as the soon to be finalised standards for Medical Support Units represent good progress. We strongly encourage the Secretariat to continue its leadership on these projects. We also encourage further advice to Member States on which other components should be priorities in the development of standards.

Force generation processes need to be more responsive in identifying capabilities and addressing existing gaps. The capabilities required for a desired outcome in the mission need to be assessed and clearly communicated to potential contributors. We welcome efforts to improve the UN Standby Arrangements system, including through the use of electronic and real-time information. We also welcome the establishment of the online platform, CAPMATCH, to broaden and deepen the supply of specialised civilian capacities in key gap areas.

Training is also an essential component of preparation for peacekeeping and we must focus more on this as well. CANZ welcomes the work underway as part of the training needs assessment. We encourage DPKO to continue developing the international peacekeeping architecture, in consultation with Member States, in order to promote overall coherence among all stakeholders and to ensure the most effective and efficient use of available capacities. Bilateral and multilateral training partnerships provide a critical contribution to these efforts.

We also welcome the development of an overarching quality assurance framework, including the proposal to appoint a Director General of Uniformed Personnel.

We must ensure that peacekeepers, mission leadership and Member States have a clear understanding of what needs to be provided for mission success. The measures we have emphasised will help to enable the UN to better assess and plan for these types of operations and assist Member States in their ongoing efforts to prepare their personnel for deployment.

Although professionalism and discipline characterise the work ethic of the vast majority of our peacekeepers, there are some that use their position to commit crimes of sexual abuse and violation. There can be no tolerance for such criminal behaviour. Any allegations must be dealt with swiftly and transparently.

2. Preparing Missions to Respond to Threats and Crises

Madam Chair,

Peacekeeping missions also need to be prepared and able to respond to a range of crisis situations which may threaten the safety and security of personnel, and the civilians that they are frequently tasked to protect. CANZ is concerned at the preparedness of some missions to respond to situations that threaten the safety and security of peacekeepers. In this regard, organisational resilience and crisis response, including through ensuring that effective casualty evacuation plans are in place, is essential.

Responses to threats are most effective when missions have the necessary critical enablers to react and respond in a timely manner. Timely information and analysis can greatly assist missions to prepare and respond to emerging crises which may threaten civilians. Effective early warning systems will improve situational awareness in peacekeeping missions and ensure they are better postured to deter any threats. Modern technology can improve overall situational awareness. Plans to deploy UAVs to MONUSCO are a welcome step and we encourage the Secretariat to draw on the lessons learned to ensure that modern technology is used most effectively to strengthen capability and the overall safety and security of personnel in other missions.

Helicopters are another critical enabler. We’re pleased that progress has been made in reducing the shortfall of helicopters to peacekeeping missions. However, we must continue to improve the processes and regulations that govern the deployment, utilisation and operation of military helicopters in missions. We reiterate our request to the Secretariat to examine this further and to keep Member States engaged in this examination.

Intermission cooperation has provided much needed support to assist with the start-up and augmentation of existing peacekeeping missions over the last twelve months, ensuring they are positioned to respond to changing circumstances on the ground in a timely manner. We welcome these initiatives, along with further work to improve logistics support through the Global Field Support Strategy.

3. Addressing short term security needs and longer term capacity development

Madam Chair,

Experience has shown us that for peacekeeping missions to be successful, peacebuilding and development objectives must be considered from the early planning stages. Recognition of this was a central element in Resolution 2086 (2013) adopted by the Security Council last month (21 January) – the first thematic resolution on peacekeeping adopted by the Security Council in over a decade. Consideration of the women, peace and security agenda is a critical part of this process, as is child protection work. But our progress on implementing the women, peace and security agenda in peacekeeping remains mixed and unsystematic. We urge DPKO to finalise its five year forward-looking strategy on women, peace and security. The dedicated resources that have been established to support these agendas, such as gender advisers, women protection advisers and child protection advisors, must be budgeted for and deployed. Access and reporting lines with senior mission leadership are essential to ensuring gender and protection concerns are being integrated into mission planning and operations.

We welcome the development of the gender training strategy, as well as the implementation of various scenario-based training modules on sexual violence, violence against women and girls, and child protection. But we still need to see mission-specific early warning indicators to assist in strengthening the early warning capacity of peacekeeping missions.

This committee has played an active and critical role in supporting the development of guidance and training for peacekeepers on protection of civilians over the last three years. To build on the agreement reached in 2012, we should maintain focus on operationalizing guidance and training materials, and evaluating their effectiveness in support of overall protection efforts. This should be a priority over the next twelve months. CANZ is pleased at the work underway to develop guidance for military and police components and to further develop and implement training packages on POC. We encourage Member States and peacekeeping training centres to draw on these materials.

Mission specific strategies, effective coordination mechanisms, engagement with the local population and civil military cooperation are just some of the necessary resources and strategies required to ensure peacekeeping missions can protect civilians. We must continue to ensure that these good practices are shared across missions – and that we’re always improving on them.

Efforts by peacekeeping missions to protect civilians will only ever be sustainable in the longer term if there is trust and confidence in the judicial and security institutions of the host state. A professional and accountable security sector is essential to these efforts. CANZ also welcomes continued efforts in Defence Sector Reform, including military justice, recognising the vital contribution this provides to overall confidence in the military institution within the broader security sector.

Peacekeeping missions contribute to early peacebuilding in many ways – by articulating priorities with the host authorities, providing an enabling environment for other actors, and directly implementing certain peacebuilding tasks, something which has been recognised by this Committee and the Security Council. We encourage the Secretariat to continue articulating the roles and responsibilities of peacekeepers when it comes to early peacebuilding, including in the areas of SSR, DDR, civil affairs and rule of law.

Effective post-conflict peacebuilding requires complementing core peacekeeping resources with specialized civilian expertise in a manner consistent with existing rules and procedures. In this respect, we welcome the UN's efforts to more effectively draw upon civilian capacity resident in Member States and improve its own ability to deploy targeted civilian expertise.

It is essential that we strive to deploy personnel who know how to transfer skills in the areas of policing, justice and corrections. UN Police need to be prepared to help build capacity for host country policing services, including basic policing tools such as crime information analysis, investigative capability, human resource structure, and logistics. The UN’s ability to deliver this support relies on a unified UN Police approach. CANZ encourages the finalisation of the Strategic Guidance Framework on UN policing to support the delivery of a consistent and singular policing approach.

The conclusion of a peacekeeping mission through transition requires early planning, integration, national ownership, capacity building and communication. The finalisation of the strategic guidance policy on how to plan and manage the transition of UN operations is therefore another priority. Important lessons have been gathered over the last 12 months in the transition that took place in UNMIT. We encourage these and other lessons from mission transitions to be drawn on as part of planning for further mission transitions.

Madam Chair,

Although peacekeeping has been stretched in the last year, all evidence shows us that it still remains a responsive, dynamic and necessary tool to assist the work of the international community in its efforts to maintain international peace and security. We must ensure that we, as representatives of Member States, do not lose sight of the practical challenges faced by the men and women who serve the United Nations on the ground, in some of the toughest conditions, on a daily basis. We thank those individuals and pay tribute to their service.