Challenges increasing for UN peacekeeping – Lacroix

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Growing national divisions, combined with increasingly complex conflicts, are a formidable challenge to peacekeeping and the maintenance of security, according to Jean-Pierre Lacroix, United Nations (UN) head of peace operations.

He told ambassadors in the Security Council chamber last week that these developments made it increasingly necessary for stronger, more consistent and unified support from member states if the UN is to achieve its key peacekeeping goals.

“Peacekeeping is not a magic wand to help a country return to stability. With the support of a unified international community, political processes and peace agreements have been implemented,” he said, adding UN peacekeeping operations continue to play a crucial role in protecting civilians caught in the crossfire.

“Even where political solutions to conflicts seem distant, peacekeepers continue to protect the lives of hundreds and thousands of civilians in countries and regions in which we are deployed,” he said.

Peacekeepers also keep civilians out of harm’s way by preserving ceasefires and preventing further fighting and their presence serves as a vital deterrent according to him.

Threats against UN blue helmets are on the rise with 18 peacekeepers killed by malicious acts since last September.

“The death of one peacekeeper is always one too many”, he said.

Advancing the women, peace, and security agenda remains a core priority in UN peacekeeping, Lacroix said, citing the example of MONUSCO in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where active support for women’s participation in the so-called Nairobi Process led to significant representation in consultations between government and armed groups.

Efforts to achieve gender parity in peacekeeping are underway, with women constituting over a quarter of individual uniformed personnel as of May. Currently, 38% of heads and 33% of deputy heads of civilian-led peacekeeping operations are women.

On technology and data in peacekeeping, Lacroix said there was progress to “tech-savvy, data-informed peacekeeping forces”. Further investments in data capabilities among personnel is needed to ensure data will be effectively leveraged for effective decision-making.

On misconduct he said the UN continues to take all necessary measures to address allegations of all forms of misconduct, both past and present.

“Ending impunity for all misconduct remains a central goal and we have taken drastic measures in the case of serious allegations, including repatriation of units where needed,” he said.

He called on governments to ensure preventive measures, enforce zero-tolerance of all misconduct and, importantly, uphold the rights and dignity of victims.