At UN peace operations review, Ban urges change of mindset in response to new challenges

11 April 2016

Ensuring that United Nations peace operations effectively confront and respond to both current and future global peace and security challenges requires sustained efforts to bolster progress throughout 2016 and beyond, including the right processes, strong partnerships and clear political strategies, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

Speaking this morning at an event at UN Headquarters in New York on “UN Peace Operations Review,” Mr. Ban stressed that the sustained attention of Member States will be critical to maintain momentum and bring about change in how the Organization addresses peace and security challenges.

“Change will not come overnight,” the UN chief said, urging Member States to actively consider recommendations directed to them.

“More than that, I urge your ownership of this entire agenda. We cannot expect to effectively respond to today’s peace and security challenges with yesterday’s mindset and capacities,” he added.

Stressing that the number of civil wars has tripled in the past 10 years and that humanitarian needs have reached $20 billion, Mr. Ban said there has also been a qualitative change in the nature of the problems the world faces.

“There is a collective sense that our toolbox has not kept pace with the emerging and increasingly complex challenges we face in peace and security,” he said. “Conflict is increasingly transnational and difficult to resolve through the traditional tools at our disposal,” he added.

The Secretary-General noted that Member States have before them a set of “thoughtful and comprehensive” reviews that point the way towards a more effective UN response to peace and security challenges. These include the report of his High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations, the report of the Advisory Group of Experts on Peacebuilding, and the Global Study on women, peace and security.

“Our challenge is to bring these proposals to life. That is my responsibility as Secretary-General. It is your responsibility as Member States and partners, as host or neighbouring countries, as members of the Security Council and as contributors of troops, police and financing,” Mr. Ban said.

Mr. Ban said that while “good progress” has been made in the past six months, Member States must also be “clear-eyed about the political, financial and organizational challenges ahead.”

In that regard, he noted that the report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations includes a number of messages. Among them are placing political solutions at the centre of the work of peace operations, working towards a more flexible spectrum of peace operations, strengthening partnerships and ensuring more field-focused and people-centred operations.

Implementation of the recommendations of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations

The UN chief said that in his implementation report of September 2015, he had put forward a practical agenda stressing three main action areas: a renewed focus on conflict prevention and mediation; more effective partnerships, in particular with regional organizations; and strengthened planning and conduct of UN peace operations.

In the six months since the report was issued, almost 90 per cent of the actions put forward were at “various stages of implementation,” Mr. Ban said. Some of the measures are complex and will require considerable time to implement, while others, such as proposed restructuring, he will encourage his successor to consider.

“I see progress in efforts to better prioritize mandates and to implement mandates on the protection of civilians,” Mr. Ban said. “But when the lives of men, women and children lie in the balance, political consensus must be crafted on a case-by-case basis to enable us to respond most effectively.”

Outlining areas which he believes are “critical to success,” the UN chief stressed the importance of revitalizing the preventive efforts of the UN system and deepening political support from Member States. He noted that he is also committed to bringing situations of concern to the attention of the Security Council “where swift responses may save lives as well as resources.”

Deeper engagement with regional partners is also a must, including more regular consultations and more predictable ways of working together, Mr. Ban said. In that vein, the UN will seek to further enhance dialogue between troop- and police-contributing countries, the Security Council and the Secretariat.

The UN chief also stressed that “rooting out” sexual exploitation and abuse is another priority, and that he will continue to “shine a spotlight on this scourge.”

“I know you share my horror and disgust at allegations that troops committed unspeakable acts against those they were sent to protect,” he said.

“My constant and loud advocacy must be matched by Member States who alone have the power to swiftly bring to justice those who have committed crimes and to impose the strongest possible disciplinary and criminal sanctions. This is essential to restoring trust in the invaluable institution of peacekeeping, and providing justice and healing to the victims and affected communities,” he added.

In that regard, he said that the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2272 is an important step in collective efforts to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and abuse, and the damage it causes.

The Secretary-General also emphasized that greater progress is needed to enhance the participation of women in peace operations and in mission leadership, and in enhancing uniformed capabilities and performance, and improving field support. Moreover, he said that political solutions and strategies must be placed at the centre of the Organization’s peace and security efforts, including the work of UN peace operations.

“These missions need strong political support and backing, built on a united Security Council and strategic engagement with partners that have influence with the parties,” the UN chief said.

“Peace operations can and have succeeded when they are an expression of strong and unified international political will. They have failed when they are not. To deploy them in the absence of a political strategy for resolving the conflict is to risk lives and money in pursuit of a peace that will likely remain elusive,” Mr. Ban said.

The event was co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Ethiopia, Norway and the Republic of Korea, and the International Peace Institute.


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