March 28, 2018
Security Council Open Debate on Collective Action to Improve UN Peacekeeping Operations

Statement of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the
United Nations

Security Council Open Debate on
Collective Action to Improve UN Peacekeeping Operations

New York, 28 March 2018
Mr. President,

The Holy See thanks the Presidency of the Kingdom of the Netherlands for convening today’s debate on United Nations Peacekeeping Operations.

The Holy See believes in the United Nations’ central role in the maintenance of international peace and security and appreciates the significant contribution of UN peacekeeping operations in the prevention and resolution of many armed conflicts within and among States.

In these times of shifting and changing threats to international peace and security, it is timely to look together for ways to improve further UN peacekeeping operations. Indeed, today’s briefings have highlighted the diverse challenges across the peacekeeping realm — which now includes international terrorism and violent extremism, transnational organized crime, and climate-related emergencies — and have pointed to the need for a more robust, coherent and comprehensive collective action in the context of evolving threats to international peace and security.

As challenges and threats continue to evolve, the Holy See believes that the protection of civilians and critical civilian infrastructure — like schools, hospitals, religious and cultural sites and water supplies — should remain a constant and crucial dimension of peacekeeping. In some situations of armed conflict, in particular when the conflict has involved ethnic cleansing and other forms of massive displacement, it is important that peacekeepers help create the necessary conditions for the safe and dignified return of refugees, other forced migrants and internally displaced persons to their homes and properties. This clearly requires a holistic approach involving other United Nations agencies and various other institutions and stakeholders. From the start of every mission, the peace and security instruments of the United Nations must therefore work in tandem with development, human rights and humanitarian actors. Human rights violations can be drivers of conflict, and restoring respect for human rights will often contribute to addressing root causes of conflicts and to sustaining peace.

Another significant aspect in our common search of ways to improve UN peacekeeping operations is to identify the best times to launch and close a peacekeeping mission. Making the right decision in these critical areas has become all the more challenging of late, as calls increase for a continuous engagement of peacekeeping operations from the early signs of conflict to the post-recovery phase. Peacekeeping and peacebuilding have become so interwoven that now many expect them to overlap normally in UN operations. My Delegation trusts that the United Nations will always listen to and consult with governments and populations directly affected on the ground.

The challenge of making the best decision in these two critical moments of a peacekeeping operation is made more acute by the fact that no two conflicts are the same. Thus there is the need to refrain from a one-size-fits-all approach and to tailor a peacekeeping operation according to its specific purpose and context, including the cultural and religious sensibilities of the peoples directly affected by the conflict. In this regard, my Delegation believes that the active participation of host countries in the orientation and training of peacekeepers before they are sent into the field is an important component to ensure the success of the mission.  

Mr. President,

My Delegation has taken note of the serious efforts aimed at setting new policies to firm up the rules that govern the conduct and discipline of personnel. For instance, strengthened norms in the prevention of sexual abuse against women and children by peacekeeping personnel is a necessary collective action to improve the credibility and acceptance of UN peacekeeping missions in their respective areas of operations and beyond. In this regard, the roles and responsibilities of the troop-contributing countries and the UN offices directly responsible for the oversight of peacekeeping operations should not be underestimated.

In the same vein and in light of the worsening security situation prevailing in many field missions, the safety and security of UN personnel remain among the highest priorities. The United Nations should ensure that peacekeepers receive specific training for their mission and are adequately equipped to protect themselves from aggressors. Perpetrators of attacks against UN peacekeepers must be brought to justice in conformity with the provisions of international law.

In closing, the Holy See pays special tribute to those peacekeepers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace.

Thank you, Mr. President.