Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Open Debate on Safety and Security of Peacekeepers
Statement24 May 2021
Thank you Mr President, thank you for organising this open debate on such an important topic. I would also like to thank the briefers for their valuable interventions.
Like China, my country has a long and proud tradition of peacekeeping.
For Ireland, and for any troop contributing country, I imagine, keeping safe the women and men we deploy as peacekeepers is always to the forefront of our minds.
The topic of today’s debate is not abstract for Ireland. It is personal.
We remember today those who have given their lives in the cause of peace, and the loved ones they left behind. We should spare no effort in bringing those responsible for attacks on peacekeepers to justice.
As the ones who decide to send our peacekeepers into the most difficult contexts, we all have a responsibility to look at how we contribute - collectively and individually - to the safety and security of those women and men.
The threats faced by peacekeepers are wide-ranging, from the increasingly complex nature of conflict to IEDs to drone technology, and of course most recently to COVID-19.
As these threats evolve, of course so too must our responses.
For an issue as critical as this, we believe that a concerted, a whole of UN approach is necessary.
Under China’s Presidency last March the Council adopted Resolution 2518. We have achieved progress in implementing its provisions already, and we encourage everyone to redouble their efforts. We believe that the new Group of Friends on Safety and Security, which we were delighted to join, can play an important role in supporting this and I’m particularly pleased to welcome with us this morning, the Ambassador of Brazil who co-chairs this Group.
The recently adopted C34 report makes a range of recommendations, including the need for increased pre-deployment training, gender sensitive working environments, improved intelligence and situational awareness, enhanced cooperation and the use of new technology. What’s needed now is implementation.
The Secretary General’s Action for Peacekeeping initiative also, of course, gives us a framework to create stronger and safer peacekeeping operations. At its heart, that initiative is about political will and is about showing leadership. Its success relies on all of us stepping up collectively in support of our troops. Today’s debate, along with the PRST we have just adopted, will serve as an important step on that path.
It is our firm belief that our peacekeepers are safer, and our Missions more effective, when high quality training and capacity building are consistently delivered. Put simply, you can’t have one without the other.
Tools such as the light coordination mechanism, which Ireland actively supports, are invaluable when it comes to matching needs on the ground with resources.
But as a long-standing troop contributor to UN peacekeeping, Ireland has also seen the importance of training for the development of safer and more effective missions.
That is why we have invested heavily in sharing, our over sixty years of experience on the ground as peacekeepers, to help to build on the ground capacity among other troop contributing countries, for example through the provision of pre-deployment training and field training, in particular, in countering-IEDs. We have also supported initiatives such as the UN’s Buddy First Aid Training and UNPOL’s Training Architecture Programme.
Non-State actors are becoming ever more innovative in their use of emerging technology. We need to be equally innovative in how we face this threat. Sharing information is critical, as well as understanding how the accessibility of information and technology is exploited.
It is also vital to ensure our peacekeepers work to enhance their understanding of their respective operating environments. The comprehensive peacekeeping intelligence policy and related doctrine, including the military peacekeeping intelligence handbook, will improve situational awareness in missions, leading to better decision-making for the protection of our UN personnel and civilians. Again, we keep coming back to this - what matters here is effective implementation.
We know that increased participation of women has a positive impact across all pillars of peacekeeping. Safety and security is certainly no exception.
Let’s be clear, increased and meaningful female participation does not just benefit the Mission itself, but also those we seek to protect. Ireland, along with fellow A4P WPS Champions, recently initiated a series of events focussed on overcoming barriers to women’s participation in peacekeeping. We look forward to presenting the outcome and recommendations from this work very shortly.
Finally, Mr. President, I want to underline the importance of maintaining a strong focus on the safety and security throughout the mission cycle - from inception to transition. Transitions, we know, can be a time of heightened risks for Missions and those they seek to protect.
Ensuring properly planned, coordinated and managed transitions can help mitigate these risks. This is a priority for Ireland as a member of this Council to look at how we manage these critical periods of change to ensure the most effective and sustainable path to peace.
Millions of the most vulnerable people rely on our peacekeepers for protection, but they are not invincible. They rely on their host nation, on their troop contributing countries, and particularly, on this Council, to ensure that they have the means and the support to do what they do every day.
They are putting their lives on the line in our collective pursuit of peace. We owe it to them, and to all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, to do our utmost to ensure their safety.
Thank you, Mr President.