Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Open Debate on Peacekeeping Transitions
Statement09 September 2021
I want to start by thanking, the Secretary-General, for his insightful briefing. The Secretary General’s presence at the Council earlier today is a clear expression of his steadfast support to the thousands of peacekeepers working to build and sustain peace around the world.
I also want to thank former President Johnson Sirleaf. Liberia’s journey from conflict to peace is a testament to your leadership and to the transformative impact of UN peacekeeping. Irish troops were proud to serve in your country as part of the UN Mission to Liberia.
Finally, I want to thank Safaa Adam for your powerful testimony. Your voice, and experience, your recommendations are what this Council needs to hear.
For more than six decades, Irish women and men have served in UN Peace Operations across the globe. Every community on the Island has bid farewell to a blue beret on deployment, and counted down the days to their return. Some never made it home. Today, we remember and honour all those who have given their lives in the cause of peace.
At its best, UN peacekeeping is a remarkable and meaningful expression of multilateralism and international solidarity.
These brave women and men work night and day in some of the most fragile contexts across the globe. They work to keep safe those who need protection, to resolve conflict and to create conditions for peace to thrive.
As an Irish woman, I know from the experience on our island that hard-won peace can be fragile, and that sustained commitment is needed for it to prosper.
The fact is, the end of violent conflict brings with it an opportunity to deliver sustainable peace, not a guarantee.
When that opportunity arrives, it’s up to us, collectively around this table, to be ready and prepared to grasp it.
Peacekeeping can open the pathway to a peaceful future. A sustainable transition to peacebuilding can ensure we do not falter along the way. Yes, the challenges are complex. They are interconnected. But they are not insurmountable.
That is why Ireland has prioritised this issue, not only today, but throughout our Council membership.
The resolution that will be voted on tomorrow, and which many members around this table have already co-sponsored, sends a clear and united message. It is the first standalone resolution on transitions. It will deliver a roadmap and a framework for how we approach and manage this critical and sensitive juncture in a country’s history.
When the time does come for our peacekeepers to leave, it is vital that the UN system is ready to step up and to step in. To do that, it is important that this Council has a shared vision of what that means.
For Ireland, we understand transition as a strategic process, designed to build towards the reconfiguration of the UN presence in the field. We see them as gradual processes, enabling and supporting long-term peacebuilding efforts.
Of course, we should not be naïve. The process will not always be linear.
We have heard today from our briefers of the enormous challenges that can arise as circumstances on the ground change. However, with early and inclusive planning, incorporating a ‘whole of UN approach’, and with national ownership at its core, we can ensure that the foundations for peace created by peacekeeping are not lost, but rather built on.
Colleagues, our discussions today are not merely technical matters. In fact, for thousands of vulnerable people, it is far from abstract. They are depending on this Council and the UN to work with their governments to ensure their safety and to protect them from harm.
When the Secretary-General was here, he highlighted the need for greater attention to the protection of civilians during the reconfiguration of UN presences.
We know that States bear the primary responsibility for the protection of their civilians, their population. This Council also has a role to play. It has a responsibility to encourage and support governments in developing and implementing national strategies that reflect the protection needs of all elements of the population. That means the full participation of local communities and stakeholders, including women, youth and civil society.
Today’s debate demonstrated that peace is not a moment. It is not the signature of a deal, nor is it the departure of a UN peacekeeping mission. It is a process, it’s a commitment. It takes time, it takes planning, forbearance and it always takes hope. This Council must exercise its unique authority to organise, equip, and structure reconfigured UN missions in a way that gives that peace the best possible chance of success. We owe this to our peacekeepers, and to those they were sent to protect.