I am honoured to make this statement on behalf of the Nordic countries; Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, and my own country, Norway.
We thank Senegal for initiating this important debate. Asymmetric threats, including terrorism and organized crime, are a reality of contemporary conflicts. The perpetrators of such violence are spoilers of peace.
Of the eleven countries most affected by terrorism, seven currently host UN peace operations.
The Nordic countries fully subscribe to the recommendation of the High-level Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) that UN missions are not suited to conduct counter-terrorism operations.
However, where asymmetric threats are present, UN missions must adapt to deal with those challenges.
I will make five points:
Firstly, all Missions must be provided with the necessary capabilities to fulfil their mandate and ensure the safety of UN personnel. The HIPPO called for a comprehensive quality reform in UN operations, including through adequate medical support. The Nordic countries are pleased that the UN has initiated important improvements in that spirit, but much more needs to be done.
Some innovative developments indicate that we are heading in the right direction: In MINUSMA the Nordic countries, together with other partners, have pioneered the use of intelligence through the All Sources Information Fusion Unit, ASIFU. ASIFU helps the Mission to better monitor potential perpetrators of asymmetric violence, and thus strengthens its ability to prevent and respond to attacks.
Based on this experience, the Nordic countries recommend that the UN further develops its technological and analytical tools to better understand, prevent, and respond to radicalization and asymmetric violence.
Secondly, even in challenging security environments, UN Missions must continue to reach out to local communities.
Where necessary, UN Missions must be ready to act decisively and without hesitation to protect civilians.
Thirdly, the UN should deepen its partnership with regional organizations, in particular with the African Union. The AU has gained rich experience from dealing with asymmetric conflict environments, such as in Somalia. We believe that a deepened partnership and exchange of best practices would benefit all parties, including in planning and conducting operations.
Fourthly, we must ensure that all UN personnel operating in complex security environments have adequate training and equipment to carry out their tasks. We must invest in leadership at all levels. Where necessary, the UN should facilitate and provide assistance to capacity-building and training towards this end.
Finally, we must address the root causes of conflict and invest more in prevention, often taking a regional perspective. Priority should be given to stopping illicit financial flows and foreign terrorist fighters, as well as improving development policies, strengthening fragile states, involving women and offering young people education and job opportunities.
Together with all relevant stakeholders, within and outside the UN family, we must be willing to engage for the long haul in order to prepare the ground for genuine political solutions and to sustain peace.