Statement to the Fourth Committee
Agenda item 51: Comprehensive review of the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects
New York, 1 November 2023
At the outset, my delegation would like to express its gratitude to all those peacekeepers who have sacrificed their life on a mission. Their willingness to put their lives at risk for peace should inspire us to reinvigorate this Committee’s efforts to review and enhance peacekeeping operations—especially the security of peacekeepers and civilian personnel—in order to improve the capacity of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security.
With rising levels of armed conflict across all regions of the globe, there is a growing need for peacekeeping operations to assist in safeguarding peace in those States that request security assistance. Considering that “achieving the universal common good cannot be imposed by force”, it is crucial to uphold the principle of consent as the basis for the deployment of peacekeeping operations (PKOs). In such operations, like the entire United Nations system, PKOs “must operate with fairness, absolute impartiality, and with dedication to the common good” in fulfilling their mandates.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis completed apostolic journeys to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, two States that host significant PKOs. Such operations are meant to provide stability and enable political authorities to orient themselves toward the attainment of the common good.
In promoting stability, peacekeeping operations must always uphold the inherent dignity of the human person. This can be accomplished by limiting the use of force while fulfilling their mandate. Furthermore, it is crucial that peacekeeping operations protect civilians as an utmost priority. This includes not only physical protection but also necessitates monitoring human rights violation, while ensuring that civilians can fully enjoy their fundamental human rights and freedoms.
Moreover, adequately protecting civilians obligates PKOs to ensure that their own personnel do not harm civilians or the environment, which would undermine their legitimacy in the eyes of the host State population. In this regard, the Holy See reiterates its call for increased efforts to eliminate all forms of sexual abuse or exploitation, to hold perpetrators of these heinous acts accountable, while providing the necessary support to the victims, including children conceived through these crimes. In this sense, the United Nations must take adequate measures, otherwise it could be inhibited in responding to future conflicts.
Given the important role played by members of civil society in the promotion of peace, the Holy See urges PKOs to increase engagement with all segments of society in host Countries, especially with faith-based organizations, which have the unique capacity to provide spiritual support to conflict-affected populations and further motivations for forgiveness and reconciliation.
In too many instances of conflict, women are excluded from peacebuilding efforts and “their unique contribution to the life of society”  is undermined. My delegation calls on the United Nations Secretariat to promote an active role of women in peacekeeping operations.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
 Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris, 138.
 Pope Francis, Address to Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 9 January 2023.