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C34: General Debate and Substantive Session

The Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations 2016 General Debate, Substantive Session. Statement by Ambassador Geir O. Pedersen, 16 February 2016.

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Mr. Chair, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

My country and I were saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali this  morning. We extend our sincere condolences to his family, the people of Egypt and the  entire UN community. Let me also join others in honouring the memory of those  peacekeepers that have paid the ultimate price in the service of peace.

We thank Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and Under-Secretary-Generals Hervé  Ladsous and Atul Khare for their introductions this morning.

UN peace operations play a key role in the maintenance of international peace and security, and the demand is increasing. The purpose of this Committee is to ensure that they can fulfil their role in the best way possible – through policy guidance and support.

This year we have a unique opportunity to implement long overdue reform proposals that  have met broad cross-regional political support. We must seize this opportunity to enable UN operations to deal more effectively with increasingly dangerous and volatile environments.

The Committee should build on the momentum created by the reform initiative of the  Secretary-General, including the work of the High-level Independent Panel – the ‘HIPPO’ – and the historic Leaders’ Summit, and move forward with concrete decisions.

Mr. Chair,

The best deterrence and response to an escalation of violence is pro-active political  engagement and prevention. Norway fully supports the High-level Panel’s call to put political solutions at the heart of UN operations. Operations should be designed and implemented to help conflict parties arrive at and sustain a political settlement. Norway welcomes the establishment of nationally owned political frameworks in the Central African Republic and Mali as a promising way forward.

Protection of civilians must remain a key priority, with unarmed strategies at the forefront.  An effective response should be based on intelligence and the use of modern technology,  such as unarmed, unmanned aircraft systems. Missions must also have the command  structures and the capabilities to respond effectively. Different threats of physical violence  require tailored military responses.

Uniformed personnel must comply with orders to protect civilians, including by preventing and deterring attacks, where necessary through the use of force. Norway commends the  Secretariat for its work on operational readiness assurance and performance improvement  guidelines.

Norway commends the role played by UN Police in enhancing the capacity of host country  police to protect civilians. Still, there is a great need for quality reform of UN Police. Norway welcomes the external review of the DPKO’s Police Division, focusing on its capacity to support the field. We look forward to seeing the outcome and to following its  implementation, both under the current and the next Secretary-General. Norway would also  like to stress the importance of completing the Strategic Guidance Framework for  International Policing, which will set a much-needed common standard for UN policing.

Norway strongly supports the Human Rights up Front initiative as a means to strengthen  the human rights pillar and bolster the UN’s capabilities to prevent crisis, conflict and human rights violations. Norway welcomes the Secretary-General’s commitment to ensuring a more prominent place for human rights in the conceptualisation, planning and conduct of UN peacekeeping operations.

Mr. Chair,

Norway is appalled by the seemingly never-ending occurrence of new cases of sexual  exploitation and abuse in UN operations. This undermines the credibility of the organisation, and detracts attention from the fact that the engagement of UN peacekeepers is benefiting millions.

The Deschamps Panel’s report disclosed serious deficiencies in the way the UN handles  such cases, and we expect the UN to seize this opportunity to make major changes. The  Secretary-General’s response to the report is urgent. We welcome the appointment of Jane  Holl Lute as the Secretary-General’s Special Coordinator. We also welcome the UN’s greater readiness to impose tougher measures on individuals and contingents that do not uphold the UN’s standards.

The safety and security of UN peacekeepers is a key concern for Norway. Many of the tragic losses of UN peacekeepers could have been avoided with better training, equipment, and medical capacities. Armoured vehicles have proven to be an effective tool to reduce the number of casualties in Mali.

Norway commends the Secretariat for its work on operational readiness and performance  improvement guidelines, as well as its work on medical standards. The presence of trustworthy medical services weighs heavily in the Norwegian Government’s decisions on  participation in international operations. The creation of the strategic force generation cell  is an important step towards improving the force generation process.

Norway supports the call for stronger efforts to implement the women, peace and security  agenda in peacekeeping. We welcome the ongoing efforts by DPKO and DFS to strengthen the gender architecture in line with the recommendations of the High-level Panel and the  Global Study. Member States must also do their part by including the gender perspective in the pre-deployment training of all peacekeepers and by recruiting women as peacekeepers.

Partnerships are vital in efforts to bring about peace and stability. Norway welcomes the  ongoing work to institutionalise the UN’s strategic partnership with the AU. We concur with the High-level Panel’s call for sustained, predictable and flexible funding mechanisms to support AU operations, provided they are in compliance with UN standards. We commend the AU’s commitment to self-reliance, including its commitment to financing 25% of future AU operations.

At the Leaders’ Summit in September, NATO’s Secretary-General offered to increase  NATO’s support to UN peace operations in several areas of key importance to the UN, including countering improvised explosive devices. Norway expects this to be on the agenda when UN and NATO staff officers meet for their annual staff talks.

Finally, let me underline Norway’s commitment to a successful outcome of this session. As noted on earlier occasions, the relevance of this Committee hinges on its capacity to provide a report with clear guidance.

This year we have a window of opportunity to adapt UN peace operations to the realities they face on the ground, based on the recommendations of the High-level Panel and the  Secretary-General’s implementation report. To succeed, we must be willing to revisit our  established positions, and look for compromises.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.