Statement by Ambassador Dr. Maleeha Lodhi Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations at the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C-34) (February 12, 2018)

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation aligns itself with the statement made by Morocco on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

We look forward to the briefings by the Under Secretaries General La Croix and Khare in the coming week.

Mr. Chairman,

The Special Committee on Peacekeeping is a unique forum that brings together all peacekeeping stakeholders, troop and police contributors, financial contributors, Security Council members and of course the UN Secretariat.

With a clear mandate to discuss every aspect of peacekeeping, it is imperative that this Committee play its prescribed role in norm building and policy formulation, and thus ensure that peacekeeping lives up to the expectations of its member states.

Our deliberations in the C-34 are often shaped by the situation on ground, where our peacekeepers risk their lives every day to uphold and maintain international peace and security. Both the urgent and important need to be addressed. An urgent current issue is the increasing threat to the safety and security of our Peacekeepers that are increasingly being deployed in complex and perilous operating environments. In theaters like Mali and the DRC, Blue Helmets frequently come under direct attack, a phenomenon unheard of just a few years ago.

Pakistan recently lost a peacekeeper in the DRC, our first casualty of 2018. Sadly, many in this room have been confronted with such grim news far too often.

This however, neither weakens the resolve of TCCs to serve the cause of international peace and security, nor does it diminish the efficacy of peacekeeping itself. But as contributors of our best and bravest to serve this common cause, we do want to take whatever steps we can take to ensure their safety.

The recently released report on “Improving Security of United Nations Peacekeepers”- the Cruz Report - gives us an insight into the challenges ahead and also charts out broad contours of the course that could be followed. We had a very useful discussion with USG Le Croix on the report in the Group of Troop and Police Contributing Countries, led by Pakistan and Morocco last week. We hope to deliberate on it further in the Committee.

Strategic decisions during the planning and mandate creating phases of peacekeeping operations impact security. Security Council mandates, if and when based on political expediency, further compound the situation on ground, increasing avoidable risk.

Turning now to the important, while we all agree on the efficacy of such cooperation, when it comes to actual mandate renewals and implementation, filling the knowledge gap, testing new ideas and implementing new polices and frameworks, unfortunately, consultations fall short of the requirements and our expectations.

Last year, this Committee decided that we had reached the limit of reiterating the importance of triangular consultation and needed to go beyond this. Pakistan and the UK took the initiative to hold informal consultations within the C-34 and came up with a set of recommendations and best practices. During this Session, the Committee will deliberate on them further to give them a concrete shape. This is the time then to agree on concrete ways forward.

Mr. Chairman,

The evolving nature of conflict and challenging operating environments are often invoked to argue for robust peacekeeping, peace enforcement and counter-terrorism operations by peacekeepers.

The fundamentals of peacekeeping must be preserved even as we adapt to changing realities. Blurring the line between peacekeeping and peace enforcement holds high risk as it would impact the neutrality of Blue Helmets, making them even more vulnerable to targeted attacks. Also, the report of the High-Level Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) and the consensus view of practitioners of peacekeeping both stress that UN peace operations “are not the appropriate tool for military counter-terrorism operations”.

Our peacekeepers in MONUSCO, when attacked by militia on 27 January, responded with appropriate force, killing 11 members of the attacking militia. It once again showed that principles of peacekeeping are not a hindrance to use of force when required.

The broad support, legitimacy and credibility that UN peacekeeping has come to enjoy over the years are predicated on these very principles. Despite the need for reform, we strongly feel that changing the fundamental principles of peacekeeping is not warranted.

Mr. Chairman,

When we consider long running missions in deteriorating security environments with no exit strategy, it is time to rethink our long term needs and tools. The HIPPO report talks of the primacy of politics and the Secretary General calls for greater focus on the need for political solutions.

We fully agree, there can be no lasting peace without addressing the root causes of conflict. Peacekeeping needs to be strengthened through support for political solutions and mediation processes. The goal of protection of civilians is best served by preventing the outbreak of armed conflicts in the first place, addressing the root causes of conflicts, and finding inclusive political solutions to disputes.

Mr. Chairman,

Peacekeeping, we all agree, needs to be agile, flexible and responsive. However, this entails peacekeeping missions that are effectively deployed and making their operations relevant to realities on the ground, with clearly identified priorities, adequate sequencing and well-equipped human and material resources.

When lives are at stake, of peacekeepers, as well as those they are responsible to protect, needs should drive peacekeeping, not narrow cost or bureaucratic considerations.

Lack of adequate resources results inevitably in non-implementation of the very mandates that we fashion for our Blue Helmets. We should be talking about enhancing capabilities, not across the board cuts in peacekeeping budget.

Mr. Chairman,

The three pledging conferences in the past three years have generated the much-needed pledges in terms of troops and equipment. With troop reductions and mission draw-downs, there is now a need to take stock of these pledges in conjunction with the critical capability gaps that remain.

In the same context, the feasibility of the Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System (PCRS) should also be evaluated, as it is an expensive enterprise for T/PCCs to maintain equipment and troops while revised mandates are cutting down resources.

We welcome the upcoming strategic reviews of peacekeeping missions and look forward to frank and constructive deliberations on their findings and conclusions, with real inputs from TCCs. We feel such stock taking exercises will be useful in guiding us toward our common goal of well-equipped and fit for purpose peacekeeping missions.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me conclude by reiterating our unflinching support to UN peacekeeping, both as one of its largest and consistent contributors and also as host of a peacekeeping mission, the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan which is a critical factor for stability in our region. This needs to be expanded to respond to existing threats and realities.