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Statement at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Training and Capacity Building in Peacekeeping

United Nations Security Council Open Debate


Investing in Peace: Delivering Quality Training and Capacity Building to improve Safety and Security and Performance of UN Peacekeepers


Statement on behalf of Ireland

by Ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason

Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations


New York

7 May 2019

Mr President,

Thank you for organising today’s debate.  Like Indonesia, my country has a long and proud tradition of peacekeeping.  For any troop contributing country, keeping those we deploy to the field safe will always be uppermost.  It matters not just to our peacekeepers and their loved ones, but to the wider support for the peacekeeping mission overall.  That is why training and capacity building is so important, and why Ireland’s Defence Forces are deeply and increasingly engaged in this area.

It is also why Ireland has so strongly supported the Secretary General’s reform agenda for UN peacekeeping operations, and the shared Action for Peacekeeping commitments.  Training and capacity building are keystones of that agenda. Driving implementation is our shared responsibility. 

As we see it, the increasingly complex nature of conflicts, inevitably brings greater risks to the safety and security of our brave peacekeepers.  Whether it is ensuring our peacekeepers are safer or that our Missions are more effective, the delivery of quality training and capacity building is fundamental.  Put simply- you can’t have one without the other.

I want to briefly highlight some of the ways in which Ireland is working to help build capacity and respond to specific training needs:

  • Last month Ireland was pleased to host troops from our fellow TCCs for a training course on the protection of civilians.  The protection of civilians is not an abstract concept to us. Our experience in over 60 years of unbroken participation in UN peacekeeping operations has taught the importance of peacekeepers engaging with communities on the ground, especially with women, children and vulnerable groups. 
  • We also want to ensure that our troops are equipped to address issues of sexual and gender-based violence.  Ireland is providing customised training for peacekeeping contingents on the appropriate investigation of these issues.
  • As co-chair of the UN Military Intelligence Working Group, Ireland is working to build a better intelligence picture of peacekeeping environments, which can both help Missions carry out their mandates more effectively but also mitigate risks.
  • Ireland is currently also partnering with UNMAS to deliver two training programmes that will equip personnel to deal with explosive ordinances such as IEDs and anti-personnel mines. 
  • Partnerships and sharing experiences are key to identifying and, importantly, to bridging capacity gaps.  We want to ensure that the practical and administrative aspects of deploying peacekeepers do not act as a barrier to engagement. Ireland is working to prepare a seminar on this very topic in Djibouti in June. We must also work to maximise the opportunities for collaboration and partnership with regional organisations such as the African Union.  In the context of the EU, Ireland has put forward a Food for Thought paper, offering recommendations for partner TCCs to work together on deployment issues.
  • As we all know, the participation of women in peacekeeping operations impacts positively not just the Mission itself, but also the local population our peacekeepers serve.   This is why Ireland works hard in support of the Secretary General’s Uniformed Gender Parity Strategy as we move to meet our targets and increase our numbers of women peacekeepers at every level.  We urge partners to nominate women to participate in Ireland’s pre-deployment training courses.  

Safety in the field, means that as TCCs we must hold our peacekeepers to the highest standards and stamp out any conduct that harms the populations that we seek to protect. This is fundamental to the credibility and legitimacy for the UN.  The Prime Minister of Ireland, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, is proud to be part of the Secretary General’s Circle of Leadership on addressing sexual exploitation and abuse.  

Mr President,                                  

Peacekeeping is a part of Ireland’s identity here at the UN.  As our Taoiseach/ Prime Minister said here at the UN last year, in Ireland we are as proud of the blue helmet as we are of the harp or the shamrock.  In my country we have a saying, ‘Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine’, which I like to translate as: ‘we live in each other’s shelter, and not in each other’s shadow.’ This is the message that Irish peacekeepers live every day in the field, whether protecting civilian populations or helping to build the capacity of our fellow TCCs. It is the philosophy we would respect and live out, if lucky enough to be elected to sit at this table for 2021-2022. 

Thank you.

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