Statement by Turkish Deputy Permanent Representative Mr. Güven Begeç at the General Debate of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (2017 Substantive Session)

Güven Begeç 21.02.2017
Chair,

Allow me from the outset to pay tribute to the United Nations men and women peacekeepers who put their lives at harm’s way in the line of duty and express my deepest sympathy for those who paid the ultimate price and those wounded for the noble cause of peace.

Today, in the highly complex threat environments that they are deployed, peacekeepers constitute the most effective assets of the United Nations in the service of international peace and security. The successful accomplishment of their duty is a credit to the United Nations, thus to all of us.

…And this makes the work of this Committee (the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations) truly important. Therefore, I wish you and the members of the Bureau success in discharging your functions during this year’s substantial session. Throughout your work, you can count on my delegation’s full support.

Chair,

We condemn in the strongest terms all kind of attacks against peacekeepers. Today, some of the current peacekeeping missions are deployed in increasingly life threatening environments for our uniformed and civilian peacekeepers alike.

The intensification and sophistication of asymmetric threats by terrorist and extremist groups is a serious challenge to United Nations peacekeeping both in terms of force protection and implementation of the mandate.

Indeed, the fact that we observe similar negative patterns and trends in different parts of the world, worsening situations in either geographically distinct or interconnected locations indicate a general problem of insecurity that should be better addressed by the United Nations.

Thus, it is the expectation of the whole international community that the Security Council, as the primarily responsible body for the maintenance of peace and security, plays its role more efficiently in the prevention and resolution of crises, in close coordination and cooperation with other bodies, especially the General Assembly, and taking full advantage of the tools available to the United Nations system in support of political solutions to conflicts and sustaining peace.

On the other side, in addition to their traditional duties, the tasks entrusted to United Nations peacekeepers have gradually increased and broadened with specific mandates, particularly in light of the moral responsibility of protecting civilians, defending the rights of the children and preventing sexual violence in the armed conflict.

Protection of civilians mandates might require United Nations peacekeeping adapts its posture toward more robust approaches, especially where situation in the ground dictates. We acknowledge the criticality of the matter and appreciate the efforts to develop strong guidelines to ensure the protection of civilians. We believe that this must be in harmony with the sprit and the word of the Charter and peacekeeping principles. The use to force should always be exceptional.

Chair,

Peacekeeping operations have grown in number, size and scope of their mandates over the years, and this trend is likely to continue in the predictable future, notwithstanding the successful accomplishment and drawdown phases of some missions (such as UNMIL in Liberia). As the flagship activity of the UN, peacekeeping remains vital in stabilizing political and security environment, ensuring ceasefires, decreasing violence and preventing the relapse of the crisis.

The UN has come a long way in this endeavour and its peacekeeping capabilities have progressed considerably over time. Yet, as the dimensions of conflicts and crises are now outpacing the UN response capacity, we should adapt our Organisation to present and future challenges.

Back in 2015, the High-Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations (HIPPO) and other important reviews drew our attention to some critical factors as main lines of efforts in developing the United Nations’ conflict prevention and sustaining peace capacity.

• Emphasizing on the primacy of politics the HIPPO recommended to bring conflict prevention and mediation back to fore as a key factor to mitigate the overload on UN crisis management. Indeed, peacekeeping operations cannot substitute political solutions.

• Mediation is an important tool in this context, as it is consent-based and pertains to all stages of the conflict cycle. Mediation is about fostering a culture of dialogue, compromise and inclusivity in conflict and post-conflict set-ups as well as enabling to address the root causes of the conflict. As such, its effective use is a force multiplier for the success of peacekeeping missions and SPM’s alike in their pursuit for political outcomes.

• Improving the performance of UN peacekeeping machinery with a more people-centred approach, by taking full advantage of bolstered conflict analysis, information and preventive diplomacy capabilities, and making full use of technological assets, through more effective partnerships with regional and sub-regional organisations, has also been considered a key factor.

We believe that all of these factors are important and they should be applied in a balanced and mutually compatible way, in full conformity with the peacekeeping principles and the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

Chair,

The Special Committee has a key role in deliberating how the Member States can better contribute to the UN peacekeeping efforts. It also defines the expectations of the Member States from the United Nations Secretariat and entrusts it with particular tasks.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance that, in its actions, the Secretariat observes the common ground among the Member States that enable us to progress in improving conditions for UN peacekeeping. Consensual solutions and Member States-driven processes have better chance to be effective remedies to complex, multifaceted problems that the United Nations system is faced.

Among various issues pertaining to UN peacekeeping that will be addressed by the Committee this year –during the negotiations of its annual report- there are some that deserve particular attention: threats to the safety and security of the UN personnel and the protection of civilians have become most critical and to a great extent interlinked challenges to today’s peacekeeping. They both require better adaptability and increased capacity to tackle growing asymmetric threats.

We took note that the Secretariat, in light of the compelling necessity to protect UN personnel in the field against asymmetric threats and enable them to carry out their mandate in complex and unpredictable high-risk environments, has come up with the Policy Framework for Intelligence Support to Peacekeeping Operations.

This document prepared by the Secretariat might have a broader impact on the United Nations’ overall work in the peace and security domain, even though it is intended to serve the field missions within the purview of the Secretariat.

Turkey, while fully acknowledging the need for increasing situational awareness capability of the UN peacekeepers, would like to see that any action on behalf of the United Nations does absolutely no harm to the reputation, integrity and impartiality of our Organisation. After all, the overall success of the United Nations strictly depends on trust and confidence of nations.

Therefore, every action in the name of information gathering –otherwise called for intelligence purposes- should be fully in conformity with the United Nations Charter, the peacekeeping principles and international law. Clandestine activities should absolutely be prohibited for peacekeepers either uniformed or civilian and accountability must be assured at the top level.

Furthermore, given the widely accepted view that counter-terrorism operations should not be part of the mandates of United Nations peacekeeping missions for these missions are not designed, trained and equipped for that purpose, we should draw a line between situational awareness aimed at force protection and the implementation of mandate requirements and intelligence gathering for military counter-terrorism operations.

Chair,

There are certainly other matters that this Committee should deal with utmost care. Sexual exploitation and abuse cases that the UN peacekeepers are involved is among them. The “zero tolerance” policy should be strictly implemented against those personnel who are involved in such cases as this is one of the biggest scourge that undermines the very foundation of the UN, its credibility and the trust the UN flag enjoys. These utterly disgraceful acts should cease completely and the perpetrators must be punished.

Turkey believes that closer cooperation and consultation among the Security Council, the TCC/PCC and the Secretariat is the key factor for better design, planning and conduct of peacekeeping operations. Such “triangular” cooperation is crucial for achievable and realistic mandates.

Good relations with the host state and partnerships with regional organizations are crucial for success in peacekeeping. The UN organs, including the Peacebuilding Commission need better coordination to maximize the efficiency of UN peacekeeping.

Chair,

Turkish peacekeepers continue to serve in various UN, NATO and EU missions across the globe, including in Afghanistan, Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East, where they train security personnel, help capacity and institution-building, provide technical assistance and training to local law enforcement bodies.

In addition to our already deployed personnel and equipment, we want to collaborate with the UN Secretariat in training and other fields. Turkey can organize training courses for the UN uniformed personnel in its renowned military and police institutions.

We remain committed to make further contributions to the United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Thank you.