Adapting UN peace operations to a changing world is a shared responsibility Guterres tells Security Council

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United Nations peacekeepers face a raft of challenges – terrorism, hostile host governments, floods of illicit weapons and sometimes being deployed to places where peace itself is at stake – Secretary-General António Guterres said, underscoring that all parts of the UN have a role to play in making sure the blue helmets deliver on mandates assigned to them.

“Peace operations are at a crossroads. Our task is to keep them relevant with clear and achievable mandates and the right strategies and support,” the Secretary-General said, opening the Security Council’s peacekeeping operations review this week.

He emphasised UN peace operations are diverse, operating environments are highly complex “and we share a responsibility to adapt them to our changing world.”

In his remarks he called on the 193-member General Assembly for political support and on troop and police contributing countries for professional and committed personnel. He also requested support from countries bordering conflict zones and underlined the importance of having the backing of host countries.
“Above all, we look to the Security Council for unity and for clear, achievable mandates,” added the UN chief, noting the need for a strategy to support the diverse range of peace missions taking into account the “entire peace continuum: from prevention, conflict resolution and peacekeeping to peacebuilding and long-term development”.

In terms of initiatives to enhance the world body’s peace and security architecture, Guterres said the number of troop and police contributing countries had been increased and modern technologies are being used to improve situational awareness and analysis.

Key functions have also been decentralised and performance management and accountability strengthened. These efforts have reduced the cost per capita of uniformed peacekeepers by 18% since 2008.

In the longer term, Guterres outlined specific areas of improvement, including the need for clear, realistic and up-to-date mandates for peace operations from the Security Council; greater and more active roles for women in peace operations; and stepping up troop contributions.

He said 54 missions had completed their mandates and closed; two more will do so in the months ahead.
“That is our objective for every peacekeeping mission: to do the job entrusted to it. To save lives. To prevent mass atrocities. To set the stage for stability and sustainable peace. And to close. And, from start to finish, to be cost-effective.”

In particular, he emphasised the need for solid and predictable funding so missions backed by a Security Council resolution are supported either with assessed contributions, or by other financing mechanisms.
“Today’s peacekeeping budget is less than one half of one percent of global military spending,” said the Secretary-General.

Concluding his remarks, Guterres noted peace operations were currently at a crossroads and they have to be kept relevant with clear and achievable mandates as well as the right strategies and support.
“Success depends on our collective efforts. You can count on my full commitment,” he said, “But I also count on the unity and support of the Security Council to fulfil its primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security in this changing world.”