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SC: Safety and Security of Peacekeeperss

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Ambassador Trine Heimerback in the UN Security Council on the safety and security of peacekeepers, 24 May 2021.

I thank the briefers – and also China for adding this important debate to our agenda.

We see it in connection with other events, including the Arria-meeting on IEDs organised by Kenya in March.

President,

The safety and security of peacekeepers has been a key concern for Norway since our first UN deployments.

On 13 July in 1948, in Jerusalem, our countryman, Ole Helge Bakke, became the first peacekeeper to lose his life while on UN duty. Since then, almost 4 100 women and men have died while serving the UN as peacekeepers.

Earlier this month, the Secretary-General held his annual Memorial Service for 2020. The names of 336 lost UN colleagues were read out – including the names of 130 peacekeepers. Just reading their names lasted almost half an hour ...

We also recall the countless others who have suffered severe physical or mental scars after having served with the UN. These keepers of peace – and their families -- have made enormous sacrifices on our behalf. And for that, we thank them profoundly.

President,

The least we can do to honour their bravery, is to keep looking for solutions to prevent accidents and illness. And not least: to reduce the threat of malicious acts. In this regard, we would like to highlight three points on; training, technology, and accountability.

First:

Adequate training is essential to ensure that peacekeepers are prepared to deal with the complex operational situations that they will face in the field. This training must be as context-specific as possible.

Norway urges fellow troop- and police-contributing countries to train and deploy personnel with the capabilities set forth in the Peacekeeping-Intelligence Policy. This will help protect our peacekeepers – and also enhance their capacity to handle what is the main priority of most missions: the protection of civilians.

Second:

The UN must optimise the use of technology and equipment to maximise the safety and security of its personnel. This includes enhancing situational awareness and analysis. Optimising the use of technology should also include the transition to renewable energy, whenever feasible. This will reduce missions’ fuel requirements, and the frequency of long-distance fuel convoys -- which are vulnerable to attacks and prone to accidents.  

Transitioning to renewables can also create socioeconomic dividends that may lessen the animosity against peacekeepers that exists in some host communities. In turn, this can have a positive impact on the implementation of the mission’s mandate.

Third and lastly:

Host states must take seriously their obligation to bring those who attack peacekeepers to justice. The UN, however, must also play its part to assist in this endeavour. Norway is pleased to provide targeted capacity-building to support Malian authorities in their fight against impunity. We do so through our specialized police team in MINUSMA, which includes also French IED experts.

President,

Norway is heartened by the engagement of fellow Member States - as well as the UN Secretariat - in enhancing the safety and security of peacekeepers, including substantive efforts to deal with COVID-19. We trust that ongoing engagement will result in concrete proposals to make good on our joint commitment to ensure their wellbeing.

We owe it to all those that we have lost – and those who will bear scars of their service to the UN for the rest of their lives. We also owe it to the host communities – because: safe and secure peacekeepers are better peacekeepers.

Thank you.