Statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius at the High-Level Open Debate of the UN Security Council on the UN Peacekeeping Reform
thank you for organizing this highly pertinent open debate. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General, Chairperson of the African Union Commission and distinguished representative from the High-Level Panel on Peace Operations for their briefings.
Since the inception of the United Nations, peacekeeping – a concept which was not even mentioned in the Charter – has developed to become an indispensable tool for the maintenance of international peace and security. Over the time, it turned into a flagship activity of the United Nations. Today Peacekeepers operate in a much more challenging environment than at any time in history. They serve in areas where there is no peace to keep. The multi-dimensional character of today’s peacekeeping and the new demanding realities on the ground points to the urgency of peacekeeping reform.
As a troop contributing country Lithuania has a great interest in making UN peacekeeping more efficient and correspondent to the needs of the 21st century. In October, additional 34 troops from Lithuania will join the MINUSMA – that will make a total of 39 service members – a contribution to be maintained throughout 2018.
More than two years ago, High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations published its recommendations on peacekeeping reform. It is true that implementation and follow-up of those recommendations has been far too slow. Recent peace and security reform initiatives of the Secretary General provide us with a unique chance to build the momentum and carry High-Level Panel’s spirit alive over the next year and beyond. Reform proposals and determination of the Secretary General give us a genuine hope that if fully implemented, his reform agenda might reshape peacekeeping and bring UN’s prevention potential to its full realization.
“We the peoples” are the first words of the 1945 UN Charter. However, today UN peace operations are rightfully criticized for neglecting the very people the UN is trusted to protect. Protection of civilians under imminent threat must remain a key priority in all peacekeeping missions. In this context, I am proud to announce that on 13th of September Lithuania endorsed and recognized the Kigali Principles on the Protection of Civilians.
We are deeply concerned that despite the long declared UN zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of sexual exploitation and abuse by the UN and related personnel, sexual abuses continue to take place. Lithuania strongly supports efforts of the SG to act with determination and to bringing sexual exploitation to an end. Few days ago Lithuania signed a Compact on elimination of sexual exploitation and abuse, and the President of Lithuania joined the Circle of Leadership.
Much too often, mediation and peace processes remain male-dominated. While women are disproportionately affected by conflict, the critical role of women in negotiating, keeping, and building peace in their communities is often overlooked. The deployment of women’s protection advisors, human rights and gender awareness training, are useful tools in peacekeeping and should be further expanded.
Safety and security of UN personnel and peacekeepers on the field must remain high priority. Clear steps are needed to ensure that our peacekeepers have the capabilities they need to protect themselves and fulfill their mandate. Continuous attacks against MINUSMA in Mali and many other peacekeeping missions indicate urgency of our collective reform action. The use of technologies in peacekeeping should improve early warning, enhance the ability to detect, mitigate, deter and respond to all threats. That is especially pertinent where peacekeepers face asymmetric threats.
To conclude, we believe that both the Secretary-General and member states could build on emerging consensus to better integrate prevention and sustaining peace into the work of UN peace operations. Let us unite around proposed peace and security reform initiative of the Secretary General and fully utilize this unique momentum to reform UN peacekeeping.
I thank you.
New York, 20 September 2017