Security Council Briefing: UN Peacekeeping Operations

Statement by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom,
Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations in New York

New York, 9 May 2018

Madame President,

Thank you so much for organizing this important dialogue between this Council and these Force Commanders. Let me also thank Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix and the three Force Commanders present for their clear and concise briefings.

We think it’s very useful for this Council to speak to the military who have to implement in dangerous circumstances what we here in this Council agree around this safe table.

Madame President, we have witnessed an alarming rise in hostile attacks against peacekeepers over the last years. Force commanders of today’s missions face numerous challenges and threats to the security of their forces and we just heard them speak about this.

Madame President, too many peacekeepers are killed when on mission. And the Kingdom of the Netherlands pays tribute to all UN peacekeepers who lost their lives in the cause of peace. Our hearts reach out to the families and loved ones they left behind.

Madame President, the changed operational environment of peacekeeping operations calls for action by this Council, by the UN and by its member states.

We therefor see this debate in closed connection with the open debate on Modernizing Peacekeeping Operations of the 28th of March presided over by my Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

And I think thanks to the leadership of Secretary-General Guterres and Under-Secretary-General Lacroix, this year all of us are giving a quality impulse to peacekeeping.

In that context, we think it is also important that this Council shows leadership and takes up its responsibility. We look forward to the High Level seminar on Peacekeeping Intelligence in July and we look forward to the High Level event on Peacekeeping in September.

And we pay tribute to the important work done by Cote d’Ivoir as Chair of this Council’s working group on Peacekeeping Operations, and we look forward to your Presidency in December in this context.

Madame President, the Kingdom of the Netherlands fully supports the “Action for Peacekeeping” initiative from the Secretary-General.  And we applaud the tangible progress made in the implementation of the Action Plan on improving security of UN peacekeepers based on the Cruz report.

Working together we must change the way we do business, we must change our mindsets as General Deconinck said, and we must become more capable to act decisively. Working together we must make peacekeeping more effective. And to protect themselves and to implement their mandates, given by this Council, peacekeeping operations have to become more robust.

Madame President, I will focus on three issues on making peacekeeping more effective and on every issue I’ll have a number of questions for the generals:

  • Mission performance reviews;
  • The importance of an integrated approach;
  • The improvement of actionable intelligence.

1. Mission performance reviews

My first point: mission performance reviews. Since 2017, peacekeeping operations have been reviewed comprehensively and we especially focus in our discussions in this Council on issues such as resource constraints, performance and cost-effectiveness of mission components.

These reviews, in our opinion, are an important moment of stocktaking and can provide the basis for much needed adjustments of the mission mandate. But when we review a mission, we must also focus on the operational needs on the ground. Mission success depends on availability of on the one hand appropriate resources and on the other hand in combination with realistic expectations.

And in that regard, in our view, proper force generation remains essential and needs our continued attention. And we welcome the system of rotation schemes DPKO is developing.

My questions to the commanders are:

  • Are your operational needs fulfilled currently?
  • Can you plan ahead when it comes to the military you work with?
  • And are the troops you receive well-trained when they are deployed under your command?

2. An integrated approach

My second point, Madame President, the need for an integrated approach. We feel very strongly we need an integrated approach combining three elements: Diplomacy, Defense and Development:

  • Diplomacy to get a political solution.
  • Defense to achieve security.
  • And Development to provide hope for a better future for the civilians.

Only if these three dimensions come together, we think peacekeeping operations can be effective. This also means that the pillars of the UN must work better together. And we therefor are a strong proponent of the Secretary General’s reform of the Peace and Security Architecture.

My questions for the Force Commanders are as follows:

  • Do you have the impression that the development pillar of the UN is working closely enough with you? What could be improved?
  • If you see a need for a quick impact project, for instance water supply, can you phone the UNDP colleague to do that, to make it happen?

3. Situational Awareness

My third point, Madame President, and last point: situational awareness. We see a clear need within missions for integrated and systematic information and intelligence gathering and sharing between the various actors on the ground. Missions should improve their understanding of the local environment and of the threats to the mission and to the civilians.

Actionable, peacekeeping intelligence is the key to success in the complex environment today’s missions operate in. It is also key for the protection of civilians.

Peacekeepers need the eyes and ears to build and maintain situational awareness. And let me be blunt, better peacekeeping intelligence helps save lives in our point.

This brings me to my last questions:

  • Do you currently have enough early warning capacity when it comes to the asymmetric threats you face?
  • Could you share the key challenges in your mission and how could this Council help you assist to overcome these challenges?

Once again, thank you very much, Madame President and we look forward to the answers of the Force Commanders.

Thank you.

Belongs to