Statement by the Permanent Representative of Lithuania Audra Plepytė at the UNSC open debate „Collective action to improve UN peacekeeping operations“
Allow me to start by commending the Netherlands as the President of the Security Council for the month of March for convening this timely open debate. We thank the briefers for their remarks and steadfast commitment to this important issue.
My delegations aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union and would like to add some remarks in our national capacity.
As a troop contributing country Lithuania has a great interest in making UN peacekeeping more efficient and capable of addressing the needs of the 21st century. Since October last year, Lithuania has significantly increased its contingent in the UN peacekeeping. Currently 39 Lithuanians, both women and men in uniform, have been deployed to MINUSMA in Mali, serving in high–risk security environments. Safety and security of personnel deployed to the missions overseas is of highest priority for us. In this regard, we fully support the UN Secretariat in its efforts to implement the Plan of Action and to take concrete measures to improve the safety and security of the peacekeepers and other missions’ personnel, as suggested by Lieutenant General Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz in his recent report.
In environments where peacekeepers are directly targeted, where widespread violence is ongoing, or where thousands of civilians need protection from unthinkable acts of violence, peacekeeping operations must remain fit for purpose. And to confront the unique challenges of this century, peacekeepers require the tools and capabilities of this century. In addition to that, as rightly pointed by Lieutenant General Cruz in his report, our missions require well-trained and skilled troops. Due to the increasing focus on the protection of civilians, humanitarian issues, human rights and gender sensitivity training are essential for peacekeepers to be able to carry out their tasks properly.
Pre-deployment assessment is critical to ensure that peacekeeping contingents meet the United Nations standards, and, even more importantly, respect the values and principles of the United Nations peacekeeping. All allegations of misconduct must be examined thoroughly, and those responsible must be brought to account. Repatriation in case of the shortcomings or misconduct should be accepted as the only solution. A zero-tolerance policy with regard to sexual misconduct, wherever and whenever it occurs, must be strictly implemented.
But making UN Peacekeeping missions more efficient and fit for purpose is not limited to better training of troops, better chain of command or ensuring adequate logistical support. Participation of women at all levels greatly adds to the operational effectiveness of the peacekeeping missions and thus should be strengthened. We also agree with those who call for a clear mandate and exit strategy from the very start of engagement. It is the responsibility of the Security Council to set sound, realistic and achievable mandates of the peacekeeping missions. This should not however justify inaction. Regular, robust and independent reviews are necessary to evaluate the progress and to adapt the objectives.
Moreover, continuous horizon scanning and early warning provide us with opportunity to use other tools at the United Nations disposal. More investment in preventive diplomacy, early action and mediation, through the full use of the UN standing mediation capacity, remain vital. Greater commitment and engagement must be devoted to supporting political processes and preserving continuum of peace.
In conclusion, let me reiterate the need to seek for a more holistic United Nations response to peace operations: we need better complementarity of peacekeeping, conflict prevention and peacebuilding work to be carried out in close cooperation and coordination among all actors involved.
But even more fundamentally, it is time to focus all our efforts on implementation of recommendations related to peacekeeping. No longer can we afford living from one report to another while failing to fully implement recommendations and ideas generated. Continuous efforts of the UN Secretariat, including the Strategic Force Generation and Capability Planning Cell, as well as long-term commitment of Member States to implement recommendations generated, are of fundamental importance for improving peacekeeping operations. Lithuania remains committed to contribute its part.
New York, 28 March 2018