Statement by Ambassador Baki İlkin Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the Thematic Debate of the Security Council on the UN Peacekeeping Operations

Baki İlkin 23.01.2009

Mr. President,

I would first like to express my appreciation to you for convening today's thematic debate on UN peacekeeping operations. Let me also thank USGs Mr. Le Roy and Ms. Malcorra, as well as SRSG Mr. Annabi for their extensive and thought-provoking presentations. I also wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to UN and other peacekeepers worldwide, who risk their lives to make our planet a more peaceful and safer place to live.

As a long-standing troop contributor and as an increasingly active player in the political settlement of conflicts, we find today's debate very useful and timely.In fact, this is not the first such initiative. The Council addressed this issue as early as back in 1994 and adopted a Presidential Statement (PRST) on the ways and means to improve the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping operations.

Many of the points contained in this PRST and the well-known Brahimi Report issued later on the same topic are still valid today. However, given the increasingly complex and demanding environment in which UN peacekeeping operations currently find themselves, I think today's debate and the review process we intend to launch as a result is very relevant.

Mr. President,

In this review process we are to embark upon, we should first of all identify what goes wrong and what besets us in delivering the expected goals of UN peacekeeping. One can argue for many reasons, but at the end of the day it boils down to one simple fact, that we are overstretched. In other words, the requirements of peacekeeping activities exceed our ability to provide and support them.

However, this is not because we are mandating too many peacekeeping operations. When we look at the places where UN peacekeepers are deployed, these are exactly where the international community must demonstrate a collective commitment to maintain peace and security.

It is rather finding the right balance of when to start a peacekeeping operation; what to expect, in terms of tasks and benchmarks, from such operations; how to ensure the necessary capabilities; and what other instruments should be deployed in support of peacekeeping activities. Of course, it is more desirable to achieve peace through preventive means, by way of early engagement in possible conflicts with diplomatic, political and economic instruments. That said, peacekeeping is and will always be an integral part of our conflict-settlement efforts.

Therefore, we are compelled to improve the effectiveness of peacekeeping missions through better preparation, planning, resourcing, oversight and evaluation in a way that combines political guidance with sound military advice. This is exactly what has been prescribed in the French-UK non-paper, which provides us a good basis to work and build on.

Mr. President,

The complexities and the challenges facing UN peacekeeping operations today are well-documented. So I'm not going to elaborate this point any further. Just allow me to say that we concur with the objectives of today's initiative and share the urgency of a more comprehensive approach to address the challenges confronting UN peacekeeping operations.

In fact, these challenges are not confined to the UN operations alone. However, given the leading global role of this body in peacekeeping, the responsibility to deal with this problem and to establish best practices falls more heavily on the UN than any other organization.

First and foremost we need to take into account the resource constraints that will continue at an increasing rate in the years to come, given the widening scope of UN peacekeeping operations. The need to counter asymmetrical threats, as well as the global economic crisis, also put additional constraints on the ability of UN Member States to support peacekeeping operations.

In moving forward, therefore, it is imperative for the UN to promote regional ownership of peacekeeping operations by establishing cooperative arrangements with regional organizations, such as the EU, NATO and in particular the African Union.

In this context, we welcome the recent report of the African Union-United Nations Panel which sets out modalities to support African Union's peacekeeping operations. In particular, we appreciate and support the efforts towards the enhancement of African peacekeeping capabilities. The success of those efforts requires support from all the relevant UN bodies and organs, as well as from the international community.

Mr. President,

In our quest to improve the management of our peacekeeping operations, there is also an obvious need to enhance the relationship among the Security Council, the Secretariat, the Peace Building Commission, Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly. They all represent major stakeholders in this exercise.

On the other hand, creation of a meaningful partnership between the Security Council and the troop-contributing countries is also of crucial importance. After all, it is only natural that those who plan and mandate the peacekeeping operations should interact closely with those who implement these mandates and take the risk on the ground. Through their experience and expertise, troop-contributing countries can contribute to the planning process and assist the Security Council in its decision-making.

Finally, effective analysis and timely information from the field is also critical for the successful management of peacekeeping operations. Thus, we believe that the information-related and analytical capabilities of the UN Secretariat have to be further enhanced. However, this is not a matter of quantity and frequency of reports, but more related to the quality of the information and assessment.

Mr. President,

There is no single blueprint for dealing with the numerous challenges facing UN peacekeeping activities today. Rather, each operation is unique and hence requires a mandate carefully tailored to its own circumstances. Given the present day complexities and ambiguities, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of peacekeping operations requires a continuous process of in-depth review and reflection on the part of our Organization.

As a major troop/police contributor to UN and other peacekeeping operations, ranging from Haiti and Lebanon to Somalia and Afghanistan, Turkey has a keen interest in this review process. Therefore, you may rest assured of our full cooperation and support.

Thank you.