UNITED NATIONS: Members of a group of troop and police contributing countries to the United Nations peacekeeping have expressed full support for a UN plan to make the world body’s flagship operations “stronger and safer”, with Pakistani Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi underlining the need for a shift in the peacekeepers’ mandate to find political solutions to conflicts.
At the same time, Ambassador Lodhi, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, emphasized that fundamentals of peacekeeping must be preserved while adapting to changing political and ground realities.
The Pakistani envoy made these remarks at a meeting at UN Headquarters in New York in her capacity as the co-chairperson the Group of Troop and Police Contributing Countries to UN Peacekeeping Operations.
The group was set up last year by Pakistan and Morocco to facilitate an open and frank exchange of views on issues of concern to the concerned countries and to brainstorm responses to the new challenges affecting world peace and security.
Friday’s meeting was attended by 9 ambassadors — Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, South Africa and Egypt — and senior representatives from Indonesia, Uruguay, Italy and Togo as well as experts from China, Brazil, Rwanda, Chad and Nigeria.
In March this year, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres outlined his ‘Action for Peacekeeping’ (A4P) initiative which centres on three areas: refocusing peacekeeping with realistic expectations; making peacekeeping missions stronger and safer; and mobilizing greater support for political solutions and for well-structured, well-equipped, well-trained forces.
In this regard, the UN chief plans to have a special event on peacekeeping during the UN General Assembly’s High-Level Debate in September. It would include the adoption of a document or compact outlining mutual commitments for the improvement of peacekeeping. For that purpose, the top leadership of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) reached out to the group lead by Pakistan and Morocco to discuss the way forward and to elicit their views on the five elements of the intended compact — peace-building , partnerships , peoples, politics and performance.
In her concluding remarks, Ambassador Lodhi said the upcoming document or compact should recognize some key elements, including the importance of protection of civilians by preventing the outbreak of armed conflicts, addressing the root causes of conflicts; well defined, realistic, and achievable mandates; political will, leadership, performance and accountability at all levels; adequate resources; policy, planning and operational guidelines, and appropriate training; effective role of regional and sub-regional organizations in the peaceful settlement of disputes, including through preventive diplomacy, and confidence-building and mediation efforts, peacekeeping and peace-building.
“Troop and police contributing countries are ready to support all efforts to make UN peacekeeping effective and efficient, and responding to the needs of the times,” the Pakistani envoy said.
“We have one overarching aim, well equipped and fit for purpose peacekeeping missions, with realistic goals,” said, adding, “We see this as a collective effort, and are fully invested in its success.”
DPKO Under-Secretary-General Jean Pierre Lacroix said that UN could not bring about any changes in peacekeeping alone, and needed strong collective action by the whole range of stakeholders. He said the “A4P” was a comprehensive approach which required a shared a shared response on key challenges.
The high-level event in September would seek to gather political support from member states in the form of a voluntary non-binding statement of shared commitments, Lacroix said.
Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Field Support Atul Khare said that better performance of peacekeeping was not just the responsibility of the troop contributing countries. It required a mindset change for all stakeholders, including the Security Council, which approved the mandates. “Focused mandates are the need of the hour,” he said, adding that it was the responsibility of UN peacekeeping to leave a country in a better position to handle crises even after the UN mission had left.—APP