I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway, my own country.
As long-standing and consistent supporters of peace and security in Africa, the Nordic countries welcome this timely debate. We commend African countries, as well as the AU, and other African entities, for their increasingly active engagement in peace operations in Africa – to the benefit of our collective security. The most recent example is the G5 Sahel Joint Force, which several Nordic countries support, both directly and through participation in the UN mission in Mali.
However, in spite of these efforts, and in spite of positive developments in several countries, the situation remains challenging. We believe that the Secretary-General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative will benefit all peace operations in Africa. A comprehensive approach, as outlined in the initiative, is needed to sustain peace. We would also like to emphasise the importance of providing adequate training for personnel, and of using innovations and modern technologies.
The Nordic countries would like to highlight four additional issues:
First, peace operations should always support a political process. Joint visits and assessments by the UN and the AU and/or other African partners are vital for developing a common approach so that threats to peace and stability can be dealt with effectively. The revitalised peace agreement in South Sudan illustrates the importance of a united message for moving political processes forward.
Second, much more needs to be done to increase the number of women peacekeepers. Seminars such as the one organised by Rwanda, Indonesia and Norway here in New York in May are one way of sharing experiences. We were encouraged to see the joint visit to South Sudan last month by the head of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, UN Women and the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security. This was a welcome sign of willingness to join forces in mobilising women and promoting the gender perspective as key to the success of peacekeeping.
Third, we applaud the work of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege and the many others who are engaged in addressing sexual and gender-based violence in conflicts in Africa. We call on the UN and the AU to join forces in countering this scourge, including through peacekeeping. We have to make sure that peace operations also effectively prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse. The Nordic countries will continue to support this important work.
Finally, the strategic partnership between the UN and the AU must be further strengthened, also with regard to financing. The Nordic countries are in favour of a system that combines assessed contributions from the UN with AU funding. It should be based on transparent financial reporting, and AU-led operations should comply fully with UN standards, including the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy.