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UN Peacekeeping: Regional partnership and its evolution

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL

Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

 

Thank you, Mr President, for Rwanda’s strong leadership of the Council this month and for your country’s significant contribution to peacekeeping – a task to which Rwanda’s own history brings both deep empathy and operational determination. I thank the Secretary-General for his briefing and Ambassador Antonio and Mr Popowski for their remarks and recognise the indispensable role of the African Union and the European Union as partners in our collective efforts to maintain peace and security. We were pleased to cosponsor today’s resolution

The need for effective cooperation between the UN and regional organisations is of course self-evident. No single organisation alone can conduct all the multi-faceted tasks required to support and consolidate peace around the globe.

Cooperation between the UN and regional organisations lies at the heart of peacekeeping. Drawing on their unique strengths and distinct comparative advantages, borne of their deep knowledge of local context, cultural understanding and moral authority, regional organisations are deploying – often as first responders – into volatile environments to help protect civilians and save lives. We have seen this pointedly in places such as Somalia and in the Central African Republic.

At a time when the world is torn by more simultaneous peace and security crises than for decades, when civilians in larger numbers are under greater threat from conflict than at any time since World War II, and as the demand for peacekeeping intensifies, we must accelerate our efforts to foster predictability and trust in our partnerships. By strengthening mechanisms for forthright dialogue at both the strategic and operational levels, we can better achieve unified views on key issues of mutual interest; and, importantly, translate them into actual results on the ground. This engagement should be anchored in the knowledge that we cannot rely on ad hoc improvisation – we must develop a broader strategy for anticipating and responding to future challenges together. And we must embed robust peacekeeping operations with protection of civilians at their core.

As more regional organisations become involved in peacekeeping, we must continue to strive for greater coherence and inter-operability – as you have said, greater structure. We need to enhance early engagement between the UN and regional organisations during the planning and transition phases of a peacekeeping mission.

We welcome sustained collaboration on lessons learned and best practices in peacekeeping. Today’s resolution mandates the Secretariat to initiate with the AU a lessons learnt exercise on the transitions from AU to UN peacekeeping operations in Mali and the CAR. We trust that the recommendations from this process will usefully inform future transitional arrangements.

In our own region, Australia has seen the rewards of inclusive cooperation and well-planned transition between regional peace missions, host nations and UN offices. The strong participation of regional partner organisations in Solomon Islands, for instance, and the transition to peace in Timor-Leste after the drawdown of a UN peacekeeping operation and the International Stabilisation Force show that such arrangements can be highly successful.

Above all, we need to improve our collective capacity for rapid deployment in response to emerging crises, and critically those that endanger civilians. No organisation has yet developed an enduring solution to this persistent – and increasing – challenge. We welcome the AU’s progress in this area and the commitment made by the African leaders to operationalise the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crisis. And we call on all member states to support the development of policies, guidelines, doctrine and training for the African Standby Force as part of the African Peace and Security Architecture.

The disturbing events in South Sudan underline again the invaluable role that subregional organisations play as partners in peace and stability. We commend the Intergovernmental Authority on Development for its vital mediation work and for mobilising to deploy a force quickly to assist ceasefire monitors and bolster UNMISS’s capacity to protect civilians. The decision to deploy under UN command and control was a sound one, emphasising as it does the importance of the principle of unity of command.

The concept note for today’s debate rightfully highlights the situation in Africa. It is as we know where 8 out of every 10 UN peacekeepers are deployed and where so much of this Council’s attention is focused. We also acknowledge the important role the EU plays, having launched some 30 peace missions and operations contributing to stabilisation and security since 2003, including many in Africa. Australia and the EU will soon conclude an agreement providing the legal basis for Australia to participate in the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy missions.

As today’s resolution reminds us, regional organisations are responsible for securing their own human, financial and logistical resources. But international partners must improve the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing for regional organisations participating in peacekeeping under a UN mandate. In doing so, our focus should be on improving the capability of regional peacekeepers and on building a culture of efficiency, accountability and transparency.

We must embrace cost-effective force-multiplying technologies to strengthen the impact of peacekeeping. By improving the technical standards of individual units, we can improve inter-operability and boost operational effectiveness at a relatively lower cost.

We must also invest more in our capacity to undertake effective conflict prevention, mediation and peacebuilding. Australia emphasises the instrumental – at times, even decisive – role of policing in multidimensional peacekeeping operations. We reiterate that the role of women in peace and security must be fully mainstreamed in all mandates. Without the engagement of, and awareness of the effects of conflict on, women and girls, there can be no lasting solution to conflict.

To conclude, Mr President, we have witnessed a sharp increase in demand for peacekeeping in recent years as complex – often simultaneous – crises across the globe have multiplied. We can expect this to increase; the trajectory looks even worse. We must harness our combined strengths to maximise our capacity to meet these challenges. It is a very simple truism that regional organisations need a strong UN; and the UN needs strong regional organisations.

Thank you.

 

(As delivered)

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